David Cameron is seeking to institute another step along the road towards more power in the hands of fewer parliamentarians. This time putting forward a cut in public spending via the curbing of the excesses of the Houses of Parliament. He wants to see a reduction of 10% in the costs of parliament, a 5% pay cut for ministers and the abolition of MPs’ communications allowance. This along with a reduction in the number of MPs to 585 would see an overall saving of £120m a year. Or 0.0169% of the projected government expenditure of £710b in 2010/11.
Currently constituencies in the UK average around 68,492 eligible voters (England averages just over 70,000, Wales 55,000, Scotland 65,000 and NI 63,000). Under Mr Cameron’s plan this would rise to an average of over 75,000 (if not more as the population grows) a distinct erosion of representation and yet more power coalescing in the hands of fewer (and lesser) MPs. Despite much of the UK’s legislation being decided overseas this is a move that weakens our democracy. This piffling reform is yet more tinkering around the edges rather than attacking the real problems of our democracy.
Parliament needs to be able to concentrate on two things: defence and the implementation of a system of justice. Local government needs to be the level where decisions over health, education, welfare etc are made. The abolition of quangos should not mean that government departments take over the work, it should be left for local councils to pick up and ask the people to decide. Indeed government departments define how centralized this country has become. We may all live on an island but we all are different with different wants and needs. The time has come for a radical reshaping of the structure of democracy in this country. It would actually give power to the people.
(The figures used in this article are based on the 2005 General Election, and the ONS’s latest population figures).