Taking on the threat to parliamentary democracy

Radix Big Tent Threat to Democracy Paper_image

Democracy is under threat claims Rishi Sunak. Lord Paul Tyler and Sir Nick Harvey – both former MPs with Tyler a former Chief Whip and Harvey a former Minister in the coalition government, agree but not in the way that he suggests. 

In their latest paper for Radix Big Tent they explain why reform is necessary to protect parliamentary democracy, why it is particularly necessary now and what steps should be taken.

They believe that British democracy has been through ‘an extended nervous breakdown’ in recent years with Boris Johnson’s attempted proroguing of parliament, lavish use of the Royal Prerogative, disdain of the Ministerial Code – and his own lying to parliament showing a weakened democracy.

They further claim that British politics is now ‘on sale to the highest bidder’ with a cap on campaign spending eased, the Elections Act 2022 permitting vastly increased spending by the national party at constituency level; and rules on political donations from outside the UK relaxed.

With an election this year, Tyler and Harvey are keen that a new Government recognises the need for urgent democratic reform and have produced a check-list of eight recommendations to protect parliamentary democracy.

  • Give the Electoral Commission total independence with sole power to make election regulations and rein in political spending during elections.
  • Remove the voter ID requirements at polling stations to ensure the widest participation in voting and introduce automatic registration to maximise the franchise.
  • Hold Commons votes to approve the appointment of Prime Ministers, Cabinet members and Government, with the incumbent PM and government routinely staying on as caretaker until the new one is confirmed.
  • Make all resolutions of Parliament binding on Government, with Parliament setting its own sitting timetables and schedules.
  • Prohibit Henry VIII clauses (making law by ‘public notice’) so that both Houses of Parliament have the right to insist that badly drafted regulations are withdrawn and Ministers think again.
  • Rationalise, codify and make Prerogative powers fit for the 21st Century, with a binding principle that any PM wishing to use them for an early Dissolution or Prorogation must first secure a two-thirds majority in a Commons vote.
  • Enshrine the Seven Principles of Public Life in the Ministerial Code and make explicit that those found to have breach the Code must go.
  • Reform and make elected second chamber along the lines proposed in widely-backed 2012 House of Lords Reform Bill.

Leave a Reply

The Authors
Latest Related Work
Follow Us