MPs to get more power. Great.

Posted by Richard D North under Dare to be dull on 25 May 2009

After a few weeks of “crisis”, we’re already past the worst and into some very constructive stuff about the future of Parliament and MPs. Here’s a summary of the proposals so far.

In the FT, The Economist, and The Times (as doubtless elsewhere) we’ve had a torrent of ideas, but they all come down to this: MPs need to assert themselves. Indeed, there is a widespread feeling that the best way to get the MPs to be respected is for them to respect themselves more.

There have been calls for proportional representation, as usual and as usual Jack Straw for Labour and David Cameron for the Tories have slapped it down. That doesn’t make it a non-starter. In the current atmosphere and granted how many modern Parliaments use it, this may be a reform which is nearer to hand than we suppose.

Similarly, it may now be possible that reformers will at last get elections to the House of Lords. This site thinks that would be a pity, but there you are.

Here are some other runners.

(1) The new Speaker (who will be elected by secret ballot now) should have more power and conduct a reforming mission as though he were the House of Commons’ CEO, and should promote the House’s work with the media – and so be its PR.

(2) The House of Commons select committees should be controlled by the whole House (rather than by the parties and especially the Government).

(3) The House should scrutinise legislation more closely, sometimes by the committees and before Bills reach the full house

(4) The parties should “whip” (demand loyalty) on fewer votes.

(5) The House should command its own schedule (and not allow the Government to dominate it).

(6) The parties should open up the process by which their candidates are selected.

(7) Fixed term Parliaments

(8) Elected House of Lords

(9) Fewer MPs (with larger constituencies) for the House of Commons

You’ll see that most of these are within the gift of MPs now: they have only to put their communal feet down.

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