We believe that the UK should be a truly democratic country, where the state is properly accountable to its citizens. In the short term, this means improving the existing system in various ways, such as by improving the electoral system, changing how parties are funded, curbing the influence of the lobbying industry, and replacing the House of Lords with an elected chamber. In the long term, we believe that the UK should be a secular republic rather than a monarchy, and that at some point in the future technology will allow us to make decisions using some form of direct democracy rather than needing to elect representatives.
The British constitution should be collected into a single written document that defines and regulates the powers of the British government, and the rights and duties of its citizens1.
The constitution could either be created by a citizens’ panel, with approval and adoption subject to a referendum, or created as a “blank slate”, with every addition done as an amendment by Parliament with a super-majority vote (e.g. 75% in favour).
Provision for calling a national constitutional convention to alter the constitution should be made in statute law. The law should call a constitutional convention if a super-majority (75%) of members of the Scottish Parliament, the Welsh Assembly, the Northern Ireland Assembly, and the English Grand Committee (if no English Parliament exists) vote for such a convention to be held. In the case one is called, members should be elected on a non-partisan ticket under a proportional electoral system, and it should have free power to make amendments to the constitution.
Limit all donations and loans to political parties to a maximum of £5,000 from individuals who appear on the electoral register.
Only individuals appearing on the electoral register are able to fund political parties and each individual is absolutely limited to transfer a maximum of £5,000 in any calendar year. This is the total amount that may be transferred and includes every type of financial activity in addition to straight forward donations.
Require all MPs to retrospectively publish their diaries on a daily basis as open data.
“Cash for access” shall be explicitly declared an illegal act warranting criminal prosecution, with sentences comparable to similar offences wherein officials have been found to be in wilful receipt of a bribe.
We want to establish a single, comprehensive and mandatory statutory register of political lobbyists. This will replace the four voluntary options currently available to lobbyists. This register must contain all paid lobbyists and it must give us meaningful information on what lobbyists are up to, including who is lobbying for who, which agency of government are being lobbied, and broadly what lobbyists are aiming to influence.2
We support the principle of subsidiarity, in the general sense that decisions should be devolved to the most local organisational level capable of effectively handling the issue.
As the Scottish Parliament, Welsh Assembly and Northern Ireland Assembly are currently devolved entities subject to the overarching Houses of Parliament, we would equalise their devolved powers in a manner that maximises the powers the devolved bodies have, and, as per the West Lothian question, establish a new devolved parliament for England, in-line with previous polling3. The UK Parliament will retain control over macro-economic, foreign, and defence policy and its members would be elected by separate national STV votes, with the proportion of seats designated to the politicians of each country decided by the population percentages drawn from the most recent census data. This way, everyone gets a say in their country, and everyone’s country gets a proportional and fair say in the union.
Currently resources are redistributed from each region according to their ability to pay, to each region according to their need. To ensure this continues, all current taxes set by Westminster would become “federal taxes” and distributed appropriately, and each regional Parliament would have the power to establish top-up “regional taxes” either on income, VAT, capital gains or however they see fit, and to keep any revenue generated. Those wishing to attract investment may choose not to levy any regional taxes at all, or keep them lower relative to their neighbour.
In the case that a local area is unable to deal with any issue effectively, there shall be an escalation path available to ensure that the issue can be decided at the next broader level.
We believe in replacing the House of Lords with a more representative chamber. However, there are immediate reforms required and so while we will work to replace the House of Lords, we will apply incremental reform to the Lords before hand to improve our democracy in the meantime. These reforms are outlined below, in the order in which we’ll hope to implement them.
All Lords Spiritual will be immediately removed from their positions as a part of our push towards a governing system where all systems and processes, including the courts and houses of parliament, are institutionally secular, even if individual members are religious.
We will immediately end all new appointments to the House of Lords, swiftly ending the undemocratic selection procedure, including internal by-elections.
The House of Lords should not contain more Lords than MPs. We will place a cap on the Lords equal to the number of MPs at any one time, and remove those Lords with the lowest attendance in order to drop the current levels to match the House of Commons.
In time, the House of Lords will be replaced with a chamber made up of randomly-selected citizens tasked with reviewing and amending legislation created by the House of Commons.
Citizens will be selected from the electoral roll and serve a single fixed-length term. A subset of the chamber is then changed each year. Leave from work will be legally protected, and help back to work included in the cost, as well as any reasonable childcare, food and housing costs that would come with the change of occupation. Citizens serving in the House of Citizens will be paid equally to MPs serving in the Commons. Any citizen has the right to reject the request to serve as a member of the House of Citizens for any reason, and it will be illegal to coerce or compel someone into doing so. It will also be illegal to manipulate the process in such a way that the outcome is pre-determined.
Currently serving MPs and/or those in executive parliamentary positions, currently serving judges, and those currently serving in high ranks of the Civil Service, the Church of England, Military, NHS, Fire Service and Police will all be ineligible for this role, to ensure the separation of the various powers that each original role would bring with it from the role of a member of the House of Citizens. Any and all rulers of other countries and, if applicable, the reigning monarch of the UK and family therein will also be ineligible for the role regardless of citizenship status or responsibilities, roles, jobs, status, or privileges otherwise granted.
MP salaries should be linked to other public sector wages, and should rise and fall with them. We propose that this should be set as a multiple of the median public sector wage. If current wage levels are taken as a starting point, the multiplier would be roughly 2.5, but the precise figure should be decided by an independent panel of citizens when the legislation is prepared. Other salaries (for instance, for ministers) would also be linked to public sector wages in the same way.
Serving MPs should not hold second jobs unless they can show that there is no conflict with their role as MP, both in terms of time required and conflict of interest. This includes directorships and advisory posts.
All persons holding elected public office will be barred from standing as a candidate in any election other than for re-election to the same post. An exclusion will apply to holding parish and district-level councillor positions simultaneously.
Allowed expenses would be reduced to only those costs incurred as part of their job; for instance, travel and accommodation.
Second home allowances will be scrapped, and MPs will instead have accommodation provided through parliament. This could be in dedicated accommodation, existing hotels, or long-term leases as appropriate. All MPs would be treated equally under this system.
In the UK, our executive branch (the government) is made up of members of the legislative branch (the Commons and Lords). Ideally, they would be separated.
The executive should be appointed by the legislature, on an annual basis. Ministers could then be selected from all walks of life for their expertise in subject areas, management, or other desirable skills.
British subjects shall pay no fee to enter parliamentary grounds.
Fully include the monarchy within the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), so that the royal household is legally obliged to respond to information requests4.
Repeal existing exemptions from the FOIA that allow communications between other government bodies and the members of the royal family to be kept secret.
Adopt full disclosure of royal lobbying and influence, including disclosure of meetings between members of the royal family and ministers.
To become a truly democratic country, the UK should become a republic. As a long-term goal, the monarchy would be replaced with an elected President who will act as Head of State. We recommend the model proposed by Republic.
The President would be mainly a ceremonial position, and should be apolitical and not affiliated to any party. The Prime Minster would remain as Head of Government, and would be appointed by the President after a General Election, as is the case with the Queen now. The President will not be involved in the legislative process.
Presidential terms of office will be fixed at five years, with a maximum of two terms to be served by an individual.
The President will be equal before the law, and will not be protected by Sovereign Immunity. The President will not be constitutionally linked to any faith.
The City of London Corporation is an effrontery to modern democracy and it embodies all that is wrong with British society. We demand immediate wide-reaching reform of the City and its institutions.
Our foremost aim is to abolish the City of London Corporation and replace it with a City of London Council.
We will repeal Clause 13 of the Magna Carta, which serves only to reinforce the unfair privileges of the City of London.
We will extend the Freedom of Information Act 2000 to include the entirety of the City of London Corporation’s assets.
To reduce the democratic deficit within the City, we will abolish the business vote in all City of London elections, allowing the residents of the City to decide their own future.
We will retain the role of Lord Mayor of London but only as a ceremonial figurehead of the City of London Council.
We will dissolve the City of London Police and bring the role of policing the City under the Metropolitan Police’s remit.
Abolish the City Minister position, ending the privileged position of the City of London to influence policy at the expense of the wider public.
To dampen the influence of the City of London in the legislative process, we will remove the City Remembrancer from the floor of the House of Commons and end the Remembrancer’s privileges to view legislation during the drafting process. Although granting these permissions is under the control of the Speaker, legislation should be enacted to ban the Remembrancer from resuming these permissions.
Introduce regional representation for overseas citizens into the House of Commons. At least one MP per continent would be a great place to start and would help give a voice to the 8% of British citizens living overseas.
Elected representatives at any level of government should be able to be recalled and replaced if needed. At the local level (Mayors and Councillors), 30% of any given constituency must have no confidence in their representatives ability to manage their constituency and represent the people of it, and sign a petition saying so. At the national level (the MPs of devolved entities, and, under the current system, MPs sitting in the Westminster Houses of Parliament) this number rises to 35% and at the Union/Federal level (Union/Federal MPs under the proposed STV system) this rises further to 40% but must be 40% of the people from the country which they represent.
Once one of these things occurs, the necessary election arrangements will be made and there will be an election for that representatives position specifically, in which the same representative may run to be allowed to continue their role, regardless of the level of government.
Parliament will be moved permanently to modern purpose built campus in a more central location in the UK.
Parliament’s current location in the South East of England makes it too distant from much of the UK. Moving Parliament will make it easier for more of us to meet our representatives and engage directly with the democratic process.
A completely new Parliamentary campus should include:
The Palace of Westminster is in need of extensive costly repair and MPs are already due to move out to temporary locations nearby while work is carried out. A permanent move to a location outside London presents immediate and ongoing opportunities for cost savings:
“Do we need a written constitution?”, The Constitution Society: https://web.archive.org/web/20140730032323/http://www.consoc.org.uk/other-content/about-us/discover-the-facts/do-we-need-a-written-constitution/ ↩
“Campaign against royal secrecy”, Republic: https://www.republic.org.uk/what-we-do/current-campaigns/campaign-against-royal-secrecy ↩