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Reform. – What reform?

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Tory grandees attempt a “fix it”

I have a great deal of respect for the former Prime Minister Sir John Major and the former Home Secretary Lord Hurd of Westwell, who both write in The Times today with some suggestions for the reform of Parliament, and their pleas for a smaller House of Commons and a smaller government are to be welcomed and considered – surely?

However it is their proposal to appoint more outsiders to government that concerns me:

We would make a more adventurous experiment in the same direction: a prime minister could appoint a small number of unelected ministers of state, who would be answerable to Parliament without being members of either House. This is, of course, a device borrowed from the United States, France and other democracies that practise the separation of powers. It could deepen the quality of ministerial government without undermining the principle of accountability to Parliament.

Gordon Brown has already experimented here albeit by introducing his GOATS (Government Of All Talents) into the House of Lords, where they are neither accountable to nor answerable to our elected representatives in the House of Commons, they are separated from the democratic process and remote apart from select committee appearances. The other great link between government and people which is severed when appointing the TV presenters to government is the bond between a minister and the people through his/her constituency. When the majority of the government is appointed from the ranks of the House of Commons then at least the rapport between constituents and their MPs remains as a constant reminder of who put them there, why, and how we expect them to respond in government. One would not have this important link if say the director general of the BBC was appointed as the Minister for Communications.

I’m afraid that the Major/Hurd proposals take us one more step towards the American Presidential style of government that we have been creeping towards since the 1960s.

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Written by curly

June 13, 2009 at 9:35 am

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