Conservative Manifesto 2010 Change Politics Make Politics More Accountable
We will clean up politics: the expenses, the lobbying and problems with party funding. We will cut the cost of Parliament, cut the number of MPs and cut Ministers’ pay. We will give citizens direct control over what goes on in Westminster, make government more accountable and safeguard the independence of the civil service.
it is vital that we act quickly and decisively to restore the reputation of politics. too much unacceptable behaviour has gone unchecked for too long, from excessive expenses to sleazy lobbying practices. the people of britain have looked on in horror as revelations have stripped away the dignity of Parliament, leaving millions of voters detached from the political process, devoid of trust in the political classes, and disillusioned with our system of government.
We will act rapidly to push through farreaching reforms to restore ethics to politics and revive the electorate’s faith in politicians. it will take nothing less than a deep clean of the political system in Westminster to root out the sleaze and dispel suspicion. We will start by cleaning up the expenses system to ensure mPs live by the same standards as the people who give them their jobs, and by curbing the way in which former ministers have secured lobbying jobs by exploiting their contacts.
but that is just the start. We will also cut ministers’ pay and reduce the number of mPs in Parliament. then we will go further, far further, since the expenses scandal was just the trigger for a deeper sense of frustration. We promise a total overhaul of our system of government, so that power is passed from the politicians at Westminster back to the people of britain. but this is the very least that is needed to fix our broken political system.
Clean up Westminster the political crisis was triggered by the scandal of MPs’ expenses. We were the Party that insisted that MPs’ expenses were published online, and we have supported the independent proposals to clean up the house of Commons. We proposed legislation so that anyone wanting to be a member of either the house of Commons or the house of Lords will need to be treated as a full UK taxpayer. But much, much more is needed to clean up our politics and restore public trust.
at the moment, there is no way that local constituents can remove an mP found guilty of serious wrongdoing until there is a general election. that is why a Conservative government will introduce a power of ‘recall’ to allow electors to kick out mPs, a power that will be triggered by proven serious wrongdoing. and we will introduce a Parliamentary Privilege act to make clear that privilege cannot be abused by mPs to evade justice.
the cost of politics has spiralled out of control. We will cut the perks and bureaucracy associated with Parliament to save over £100 million a year. We will consult with the independent Parliamentary Standards authority on how to move away from the generous final-salary pension system for MPs.
The public are concerned about the influence of money on politics, whether it is from trade unions, individuals, or the lobbying industry. We will seek an agreement on a comprehensive package of reform that will encourage individual donations and include an acrossthe- board cap on donations. this will mark the end of the big donor era and the problems it has sometimes entailed.
a Conservative government will introduce new measures to ensure that the contacts and knowledge ministers gain while being paid by the public to serve the public are not unfairly used for private gain. We will:
• ensure that ex-Ministers are banned from lobbying government for two years after leaving office;
• ensure that ex-Ministers have to seek advice on the business posts they take up for ten years after leaving office;
• rewrite the ministerial Code to make clear that any former minister who breaks the rules on appointments will be forced to give up some or all of their ministerial pension; and,
• introduce new rules to stop central government bodies using public money to hire lobbyists to lobby other government bodies. the lobbying industry must regulate itself to ensure its practices are transparent – if it does not, then we will legislate to do so.
give citizens more power
People have been shut out of Westminster politics for too long. having a single vote every four or five years is not good enough – we need to give people real control over how they are governed. So, with a Conservative government, 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. and we will introduce a new Public reading Stage for bills to give the public an opportunity to comment on proposed legislation online.
Labour have meddled shamelessly with the electoral system to try to gain political advantage. a Conservative government will ensure every vote will have equal value by introducing ‘fair vote’ reforms to equalise the size of constituency electorates, and conduct a boundary review to implement these changes within five years. We will swiftly implement individual voter registration, giving everyone the right to cast their vote in person and making it easier for UK citizens living overseas to vote.
We support the first-past-the-post system for Westminster elections because it gives voters the chance to kick out a government they are fed up with. We will work to build a consensus for a mainly-elected second chamber to replace the current house of Lords, recognising that an efficient and effective second chamber should play an important role in our democracy and requires both legitimacy and public confidence.
make government more accountable and representative because we are serious about redistributing power, we will restore the balance between the government and Parliament, by:
• establishing a backbench business Committee to give the house of Commons more control over its own timetable;
• allowing mPs the time to scrutinise law effectively;
• providing more free votes, and protecting the principle that issues of conscience – like abortion – remain subject to a free vote; and,
• making the use of the royal Prerogative subject to greater democratic control so that Parliament is properly involved in all big national decisions. We will scrap Labour’s failed target regime and instead require every department to publish a business plan, with senior management accountable to more rigorous departmental boards for their performance. We will 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 more into line with practice in the private sector. We will put a limit on the number of special advisers and protect the impartiality of the civil service.
rebuilding trust in politics means making our political system better reflect the people it is meant to represent. We will introduce a £1 million fund to help people with disabilities who want to become mPs, councillors or other elected officials with the extra costs they face in running for office. This will be funded from the existing budget of the Government Equalities Office.
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