Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Boring But Important

Ken Clarke was asked by David Cameron to chair his Democracy task force, and this has now reported. Clarke makes much of returning to a more Cabinet based government, which he wants entrenched, and of a need to increase the respect for and role of parliament. These are, of course, aimed firmly at the widely held perception that both cabinet and parliament have been forced to take a back seat under Blair. Iain Dale summarises the main points of the report thus:

* A system to entrench a process of collective Cabinet government. This will require a new and strengthened Ministerial Code, covering the required procedures for approval of policies by Cabinet

* To give the new Ministerial Code authority it must be approved by a Parliamentary resolution

* The responsibility for monitoring the Code should be taken out of the hands of the Prime Minister and placed in the hands of a body with powers comparable to those of the National Audit Office, reporting to a Parliamentary Committee

* The Committee on Standards in Public Life to establish a code of conduct for government publications and advertising campaigns

* Decisions to go to war or to commit troops to areas of conflict should require Parliamentary approval. Decisions on war making should no longer rest solely on the unfettered use of the Royal Prerogative by the Prime Minister

* Treaties with financial, legal or territorial implications for the United Kingdom or its citizens should require Parliamentary approval before ratification and should no longer involve the use of the Royal Prerogative.

There are some interesting recommendations that should strike a chord with every politics student who sometimes wonders whether the theoretical stuff we study ever has an impact on living, breathing politicians.

Clarke's own assessment of his report can be seen on the webcameron here.

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