Post-MPs' expenses, do we need a new politics?
28 May 2009
Many of the reforms proposed for a 'new politics' - called for by The Guardian and David Cameron this week in the wake of the public furore over MPs' expenses claims - bear little direct relevance to the problem of the current expenses system, argues Dr Meg Russell of the UCL Constitution Unit in a new comment piece.
"For example," Dr Russell says, "there is no reason why MPs under a system of proportional representation (PR) would be any less likely to fiddle their expenses, given that the problem lies in the expenses system and not the prevailing culture. There is no reason to think that an elected House of Lords would not see the problem of 'cash for amendments' which resulted in the suspension of two peers last week. It is quite erroneous to suggest that changing the electoral system would result in 'an end to safe seats' unless talking about a very specific alternative. Under most PR systems around the world, based to at least some extent on closed lists, party leaders have far greater control over who their candidates are than they do in the UK. Open primaries, similarly, would greatly weaken accountability through local parties, and probably bring the arrival of big money into selection contests as well."
In this paper, Dr Russell discusses which, if any, of these proposals is the answer to the current need for reform, is desirable and is likely to take place."
To read the comment piece in full, follow the link at the top of this article.
The Constitution Unit at UCL is the UK's foremost independent research body on constitutional change. It is part of the UCL School of Public Policy.
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Constitution Unit annual lecture: Michael Wills MP, Minister of State for Constitutional Renewal