Government & Politics

Codification and Reform of the British Constitutional Arrangement

In this briefing paper, Karthik Reddy argues that the British constitutional arrangement has changed such that traditional checks and balances against governmental abuses of power have been lost, and says that a codified constitution is needed which clearly articulates the limits to parliamentary sovereignty. Reddy argues that the Prime Minister's presidential powers must be recognised and responded to by separating the executive from the legislature and making the office of Prime Minister directly electable by the British people, with parliament acting as an independent legislative balance against the executive.

Read it here.

Knaves and Fawkes

In Knaves and Fawkes: Should we reform Parliament or just blow it up? Tim Ambler and Keith Boyfield argue that Parliament should re-assert its role as the UK's primary legislative authority and as the place where ministers  are called to account. They suggest that parliamentary time should be better allocated so as to give better attention to EU legislation and legislative statutory instruments, and that all regulators should be accountable to House of Commons select committees, not the government. Under their plans, the overall number of MPs would be reduced, but new "assistant MPs" would be empowered to deal directly with government departments on behalf of MPs' constituents.

Read it here.

Paying For Localism

Britain's local government authorities raise only a quarter of their budget from local sources. Which means that they are in thrall to national politicians and bureaucrats. Turn-out in local elections is falling because people no longer think they matter. The solution? Make local councils raise all their money locally. Not with an extra tax, but by turning VAT into a genuinely local sales tax. Since VAT raises almost exactly the amount that counties and districts spend, the sums balance neatly. And with competition between authorities to keep rates low, there will be greater focus on value for money.

Read it here.

 

The Wrong Package

The latest book in the series from the Adam Smith Institute and MORI looks at the delivery of public services. The findings of the report highlight the differences between the consumer agenda and the producer agenda. The new survey looks at three services: police, schools and local government and the conclusion from all three is that what they deliver is not what the public want. The public want the police to tackle criminal gangs and organized crime, muggings and street crimes, prevent burglary and recover stolen property. A huge majority of people say that teaching the basics - reading, writing & comprehension - should be a top priority. Local government should concentrate on CCTV, keep council estates in good repair and tackle litter, graffiti and dog dirt. The disparity between what is delivered and what is wanted is clear to see.

Read it here.

The Big Turn Off

'The Big Turn Off' analyses the attitudes of young people to government, citizenship and community. It shows that only a small proportion of young people share the government view that citizenship means volunteering to do things, challenging the law if they think it wrong, or being active in the community. They have little time for government, be it local, national or European, thinking it largely irrelevant to their lives.

Read full paper. 

The Kiwi Effect

New Zealand has been rated the world's most free economy by The Economist due to reforms initiated by the Labour government. The old Crown departments have been split into their policy, regulatory, service-delivery and commercial functions. The government has also become the first to adopt the same kind of rigorous accounting standards that are demanded of commercial firms - every new policy must be subjected to long range and analysis of its costs and impact. Having seen New Zealand as the world's laboratory for public sector reform, there is much we could learn from the Kiwi effect.

Read it here.