5/20? Depth options for consultations

I like this consultation by the Italian government, on constitutional reform. It's a technical issue, so they've provided two options - a five minute questionnaire, and a twenty minute one. The five minute questionnaire says: "You don't need to be an expert to respond, but we recommend you read the glossary of terms" The twenty minute version says: "This questionnaire goes into greater depth. It requires a slightly deeper level of understanding than the first questionnaire, but it is still open to all".Read more

Scotland: Law v. Politics

This row over the Scottish referendum is going to be fascinating. From a wonkish perspective, I almost hope that they don't settle it before it goes to court. It's a classic "law vs. politics" clash, as you can tell from the fact that the UK Government are going on about what is legally required, while Alec Salmond swerves the question with references to a "mandate". This confusion between the democratic mandate of the Scottish Parliament and its legal powers has been in place right from the very start. At the first meeting of…Read more

Le peuple, c’est moi

He would definitely have wanted a national referendum on the Nutmeg (Weights and Measures) (Supplementary Provisions) Order. Image via Wikipedia I haven't been following the debate on the EU Referendum Bill (aka the Glorious Patriotic Union Jack Eternal Triumph of Hardworking British Families Patent Referendum Lock to which only the Queen and Winston Churchill from 1940-45 will be given the key*). You might guess from the last sentence why I haven't been. I did read a short BBC piece on it, though, and the unreality of the whole debate struck home hard when I…Read more

Petitions with purpose

"The blogosphere is not an area that is open to sensible debate; it is dominated by the obsessed and the fanatical and we will get crazy ideas coming forward." Paul Flynn MP, quoted in a recent BBC article on the possibility of e-petitions. Is this really the best objection that Labour can raise to to the perfectly reasonable idea that we should be able, as citizens, to petition Parliament?  I can understand a concern that we still need to be aware of issues of digital inclusion and access as we start to develop our…Read more

Spaghetti law & the Localism Bill

The Localism Bill yesterday. Image via Wikipedia The Hansard Society are holding an event this evening launching a new report called Making Better Law (tag on Twitter is #betterlaw). The report appears to make sensible recommendations about the process of law-making within Parliament, including pre-legislative scrutiny and the procedure for Government amendments. One area it appears to leave untouched, however, is the legibility of the output. Much legislation is completely incomprehensible to the casual reader, and ironically enough, the Localism Bill is a particularly hideous example. The Localism Bill was published yesterday and…Read more

Mayor, cabinet or hornpipe?

Iain Dale has an interview with Communities Secretary Eric Pickles today. As you might expect, it's not exactly hard-hitting, but Pickles is given a bit of space to set out his ideas, and the changes he wants to bring about in local government. In answer to a question about council leadership models (mayors, cabinets or committees) he responds:

Bishops in da House: Lord help us

Here's a bad argument about the reform of the House of Lords: "Does the 'Big Society' include bishops in the Lords?". I don't want to be mean to Paul Woolley, director of Theos, whose argument it is, but it is pretty much identical to every other argument against full democratic reform of the Lords. It runs "democracy isn't just about electoral mandates, it's about [people I agree with] having a say over legislation".

Bishops and the Lords

Image by Getty Images via @daylife Here's a bad argument about the reform of the House of Lords: "Does the 'Big Society' include bishops in the Lords?". I don't want to be mean to Paul Woolley, director of Theos, whose argument it is, but it is pretty much identical to every other argument against full democratic reform of the Lords. It runs "democracy isn't just about electoral mandates, it's about [people I agree with] having a say over legislation". One can replace [people I agree with] with a range of different names. Technocrats…Read more

The Talk Issues Thinktank Roundup

Welcome to this week's Talk Issues 'Thinktank Roundup' - your one-stop review of all the best publications, research, commentary and events from leading UK think tanks. Not surprisingly in the week of the Queen's speech various thinktanks responds to their fears & hopes from the government legislative programme for the next 18 months. Reports, Publications & Research The Joseph Rowntree Foundation publishes a report into how better staff development can enhance health and social care provision for older people in residential homes. With Capital Gains Tax looking like a potential stumbling block for…Read more

No confidence in 55 percent

Image via Wikipedia The Government's self-interested plan to gut the traditional motion of no confidence might gain the status of memorable first flap of the new administration - with a constitutional principle in the role of Bernie Ecclestone. The proposal, linked to that for fixed-term parliaments, is that votes of no confidence should no longer automatically compel a Prime Minister to dissolve Parliament*. Instead, a vote of 55% of the Commons would be needed to authorise a dissolution request. There has been a lot of disquiet over this proposal, both from Conservatives such…Read more