Saturday, May 06, 2006

Cameron on govt reform

David CameronI went this morning to the Power Inquiry's conference at the QEII centre, and heard David Cameron proclaim his commitment to government reform. He supported many of the inquiry's recommendations, and explained his reservations about the rest. In person, he was as fluent and engaging as he appears on TV.

Some of the highlights:

  • Compulsory voting is as bad an idea as compulsory ID cards; both produce little benefit at high cost.

  • Power must be moved from the executive to Parliament, and from central to local government (and further, directly into the hands of the citizen).

  • MPs should have more free votes, and Parliament's standing committees should have more resources and powers to undertake proper scrutiny of the government — including the right to veto senior appointments.

  • Parliament should assume other powers currently exercised by the prime minister using the royal prerogative, including the ability to declare war, conclude treaties and reorganise the structure of government.

  • The current timetabling of debate over bills is a disgrace, leading to whole sections of legislation being ignored.

  • There must be independent scrutiny of the behaviour of ministers.

  • There should be a bonfire of central government directives, targets and programmes aimed at local government. Regional government powers should be returned to local councils. Visionary civic leaders are needed, and there should be more directly elected mayors. Police commissioners should also be elected.

  • Voters are more sophisticated than ever, but are treated by politicians as fools. Politics must be deregulated in the same way as the economy has been. We need an empowering not overpowering state. Politicians have to work harder to make politics accessible.

  • Proportional representation is not the answer to giving voters more meaningful choice, because it breaks the one-to-one link between MPs and their constituencies. Instead the Conservatives are experimenting with primaries, including for the selection of their candidate for the next London mayoral elections. Where proportional systems are used, they must not be closed list systems (which give the choice of candidates to parties).

UPDATE: Davide Simonetti has good coverage of the whole day.

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