Further call for democratic reforms to replace the Queen's Speech

By staff writers
November 17, 2009

Unlock Democracy, the leading civil and political rights pressure group, says it agrees with a call for Wednesday's Queen's speech to give way to a package of democratic reforms.

It has also renewed the call for a citizens' convention to ground the parliamentary process in public accountability.

The Queen's Speech sets out the government's legislative programme but also emphasises the formal subjection of democratic institutions to the Crown.

Yesterday, the Liberal Democrat leader, Nick Clegg, wrote an article in The Independent newspaper saying that the Speech was pointless given the proximity of the next election and outlining instead a set of political reforms.

The Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, is unlikely to take any notice of such calls, but the pressure for wide ranging change to Britain's political fabric from the Power 2010 coalition (www.power2010.org.uk/) and others is growing and there has been increasing discussion in the Labour Party over electoral reform.

The Director of Unlock Democracy, Peter Facey, commented: "Nick Clegg is correct to point out the largely symbolic aspect of this week's Queen's Speech. Very little of the proposed legislation announced on Wednesday stands much of a chance [of] receiving Royal Assent before the general election. Using the time to focus on much needed democratic reforms to restore trust to our political system would be a far better use of MPs' time."

He continued: "We particularly welcome the call for a citizens' convention of 100 members of the public to decide on whether or not to amend the electoral system. MPs have too much of a vested interest in this area and it is right that they are kept at arm's length while ordinary citizens decide what system would be best."

Facey added: "Unlock Democracy's Citizens' Convention (Accountability and Ethics) Bill has already been tabled in Parliament, would examine the question of electoral reform and has cross-party support from 155 MPs. I hope Nick Clegg will work with us to ensure this is legislated for before the General Election so the process of reform can at last begin."

Unlock Democracy is a campaign for democracy, rights and freedoms. It was formed in 2007 and is the successor organisation to Charter 88 and the New Politics Network.

Details of EDM 1573: Citizens' Convention (Accountability and Ethics) Bill can be found here: http://edmi.parliament.uk/EDMi/EDMDetails.aspx?EDMID=38751&SESSION=899

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