Another short article, from my copy of The Week, forms the basis of this post:-
"Whitehall reform – An Independent review into the Civil Service has called on the Government to scrap the rule that ministers must sit in either the Commons or Lords so that it can bring in ‘greater talent’ from the private sector. The proposal from The Commission for Smart Government won the backing of the Cabinet Office Minister, Michael Gove. The commission has also recommended creating a new special “prime minister’s department” to deliver the PM’s priorities; and replacing departmental permanent secretaries with new chief executives."
I suppose it is at least interesting that these things are being discussed but as with most, if not all, reforms originating from within Westminster it’s a start but only as far as it goes. In this case a cabinet to include people from outside parliament is a good idea but the suggested PM’s department smacks of empire building.
In general, all the major reforms to our governance in history have come from the outside. The other factor with ‘internal’ reforms is that there is always a strong possibility that they will never actually see the light of day – that’s the turkey’s voting for Christmas syndrome!
Our third demand seeks a separation of power between the legislature (Parliament) and the executive (Government)
This demand has two separate but linked parts.
First, that our Prime Minister should be elected by the people thus preventing the party anointments that allowed Major, Brown, May and Boris to become PM. So, at the time of elections as well as voting for a party you also get to vote for the PM you want.
Second, that the cabinet (executive), as in America, should be completely separate from parliament (legislature) thus allowing the whole of the House of Commons to hold the executive to account.
Returning to the first part let’s consider the legitimacy of David Cameron when he became PM. He gained office by virtue of 33,973 votes in the 2010 election. All these came from his constituency of Witney, which boasted 78.220 electors. The rest of the nation was not allowed a vote for the man. He may have been elected as an MP, but he was not elected as prime minister through a general franchise.
As to Parliament it should and must hold the executive to account but with our cabinet being mainly selected from the H of C as with ALL ministers, that totals around 200 MPs who are compromised, and if they know what is good for their careers will not want to rock the boat within their own party.
So, when formulating this demand we concluded that ministers and other office holders cannot be members of parliament. If members become ministers, they must resign as MPs. As a consequence, PMs must appoint their own ministers - from whatever source they choose - subject to parliamentary confirmation and dismissal. This has the added advantage of widening the recruitment pool.
As to our monarch she or he remains head of state with their duties unchanged. The PM keeps that title and while elected they are still PM and not a President.
We would suggest the term of office for the newly elected PM should be, as in America, a maximum of eight years. However, that detail shouldn’t distract from the basic principle that we should have an elected PM and their ministers must be separate from Parliament and held to account by it.
Finally, our six demands don’t just identify the problems with our governance but they also offer a workable solutions. This is something notably lacking from others who enter the fray to discuss governmental reforms. They usually identify some of the problems but seldom if ever produce comprehensive solutions including the most important reform of all which is the restoration of the inherent sovereignty of the British people.
Only with sovereignty residing with the people, and not parliament, will our MPs become our servants instead of our masters.