Restoring Trust In Democracy

Our democracy is in real danger. All too few people take part and vote, not enough people are able or willing to get involved. It’s time to reverse that trend, and it starts with restoring trust in government and the political system.

The independence referendum in Scotland showed that when people believe they can make a difference they get involved with the process. We need to replicate that across the UK.

We can start by trusting people.

Given that self determination is one of the Party’s fundamental principles, we believe that a referendum on the UK’s membership of the EU should be offered to voters in the UK. We trust people to make the right decision.

We want to open up our democracy to younger people. They see their lives and futures directed by governments they have no say over. We trust young people and want to allow them to vote from the age of 16.

The government also needs to be more open and accountable.

We will introduce a new right for constituents to force a by-election in the event of a loss of confidence in their MP.

We will require minutes of all meetings of officials on government business to be accessible through Freedom of Information requests. We will also aim to ensure that all available information that could be requested under a Freedom of Information request is made public by default.

The quality of legislation must be improved, and we have to aim to avoid laws that don’t do what they were claimed to do. We would investigate the possibility of permanent elected legislative committees for each government department in the Commons rather than ad hoc public bill committees. We would roll out post-legislative scrutiny on all important policy-changing acts before new bills on the same subject are to be considered.

We will require that all international treaties be passed through the UK parliament as a standard bill, requiring the full approval of both houses. The detail of the government’s deals and agreements with suppliers and other businesses should be disclosed.

Independent audits of public sector spending and processes should be carried out annually, with bi-annual review of spending to identify where spending reductions or greater returns are possible without reducing the overall effectiveness of the public sector.

The delivery of services to government is littered with stories of companies exceeding budgets, delivering late and renegotiating contracts to improve profits. This seriously undermines public confidence in a government’s ability to negotiate sensible contracts.

We will implement penalties for significant performance failures for government suppliers. If a company fails to deliver a government project within 125% of budget or 125% of the deadline then that company (both its parent organisations and subsidiaries) would be banned from providing services or products to the government for at least 2 years.

Beyond government, we need to improve our democracy. We see proportional representation as vital to ensuring that governments properly represent everyone, and that everyone’s voice matters in elections. We intend to restart the national debate and push for a system of proportional representation to be implemented for all elections in the UK.