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Progetto di riforma delle istituzioni britanniche Appunti scolastici Premium

Materiale didattico per il corso di Politica comparata del prof. Marco Giuliani. Trattasi di un progetto di riforma dell'ordinamento istituzionale britannico presentato dal Ministro della Giustizia nel 2007, all'interno del quale si propone un rafforzamento dei poteri del Parlamento a scapito di quelli dell'esecutivo.

Esame di Politica comparata docente Prof. M. Giuliani




The Governance of Britain 1. Limiting the powers of the executive

The Government’s role in ecclesiastical, judicial and

public appointments

Appointments in the Church of England

57. The Church of England is by law established as the Church in England

and the Monarch is its Supreme Governor. The Government remains

committed to this position.

58. Because The Queen acts on the advice of Ministers, the Prime Minister as

her First Minister has a role in advising The Queen on certain appointments

within the Church. Diocesan and Suffragan Bishops, as well as 28 Cathedral

Deans, a small number of Cathedral Canons, some 200 parish priests and

a number of other post-holders in the Church of England are appointed by

The Queen on the advice of the Prime Minister.

59. In the case of Archbishops and Diocesan Bishops, reflecting the agreement

reached between the Church and the State in 1976, the Crown Nominations

Commission (formerly the Crown Appointments Commission) passes two

names to the Prime Minister, usually in order of preference, who may

recommend either of them to The Queen, or reject both and ask for

further nominations. The Crown Nominations Commission is a Church-

based body, with the Archbishop of Canterbury as Chair and the Archbishop

of York as Vice-Chair. However, the Prime Minister’s Secretary for

Appointments is an ex-officio and non-voting member. The chair of the

Crown Nominations Commission is taken by the Archbishop in whose

province the vacancy has arisen.

60. For the appointment of Suffragan Bishops the relevant Diocesan Bishop is

required by law to submit two names to the Crown. These are passed to

the Prime Minister by the Archbishop of the Province concerned with a

supportive letter. It has been the convention for more than a century that

the Prime Minister advises the Monarch to nominate the person named

first in the petition.

61. In the case of Deans appointed by the Crown, it is the practice for the

Prime Minister to commend a name to the Queen, chosen from a shortlist

provided by the Prime Minister’s Secretary for Appointments and agreed

with the Diocesan Bishop, and following consultations with the Cathedral,

Bishop, Archbishop of the province concerned and others as appropriate.

(The aim is to reach agreement with the Bishop on the preferred order

of the list.) In the case of the Crown canonries and parishes, following

consultations led by the Downing Street Appointments Secretariat, the

Prime Minister recommends the appointment to The Queen. 25


The Governance of Britain 1. Limiting the powers of the executive

62. In considering the role which the Prime Minister and the Government

should play in Church appointments, the Government is guided by

four principles:

• the Government reaffirms its commitment to the position of the

Church of England by law established, with the Sovereign as its

Supreme Governor, and the relationship between the Church and

State. The Government greatly values the role played by the Church

in national life in a range of spheres;

• The Queen should continue to be advised on the exercise of her

powers of appointment by one of her Ministers, which usually means

the Prime Minister;

• in choosing how best to advise The Queen on such appointments, the

Government believes in principle that the Prime Minister should not

play an active role in the selection of individual candidates. Therefore,

the Prime Minister should not use the royal prerogative to exercise

choice in recommending appointments of senior ecclesiastical posts,

including diocesan bishops, to The Queen; and

• the Church should be consulted as to how best arrangements can be

put in place to select candidates for individual ecclesiastical

appointments in line with the preceding principles.

63. To reflect the principle that, where possible, the Prime Minister should not

have an active role in the selection of individual candidates, for diocesan

bishoprics the Prime Minister proposes that from now on he should ask

the Crown Nominations Commission to put only one name to him, a

recommendation he would then convey to The Queen. The Government

will discuss with the Church any necessary consequential changes to

procedures. The current convention for appointing Suffragan Bishops

will continue.

64. The Government respects and understands the different arrangements

for Cathedral, parish and other Crown appointments in the Church.

Developing any new arrangements for such appointments will require a

process of constructive engagement between the Government and the

Church, and the Government is committed to ensuring a productive

dialogue. The Government is aware that a Church review of certain senior

appointments, including Cathedral appointments, is to be debated by

General Synod later this month; it hopes that this will be a good starting

point for that dialogue. Until new arrangements are agreed, the Secretary

for Appointments will continue to assist as appropriate.

26 |

The Governance of Britain 1. Limiting the powers of the executive

65. These changes would also have implications for the Lord Chancellor’s

patronage of some 450 parishes and a small number of canonries. It would

be sensible for any changes agreed to the procedures for Crown patronage

to be also agreed for the Lord Chancellor’s patronage.

66. No changes are proposed to Crown appointments to the Royal Peculiars

such as Westminster Abbey and St. George’s Chapel, Windsor, reflecting

the personal nature of the relationship of these institutions with the

Monarch. Current conventions will continue.

Other non-executive appointments

67. As well as Bishops and other senior ecclesiastical appointments, there are

many other appointments that are not related to the carrying out of the

executive’s functions where Ministers, often the Prime Minister, have a

role in advising the Monarch. These include the Poet Laureate, Regius

Professors, the Masters of Trinity College and Churchill College, Cambridge,

and the Astronomer Royal.

68. The Government proposes to review such appointments in conjunction

with the institutions affected with a view to removing any active role for

Ministers, instead asking that the Government be given only one name,

which it would pass to the Monarch.

Judicial appointments

69. Most countries have some provision for the executive to select key judges

from a list of names. In England and Wales, until recently all judicial


appointments were made or recommended by the Lord Chancellor.

70. Since the Judicial Appointments Commission (JAC) began work in 2006

the Lord Chancellor has retained a residual role in appointments, either in

accepting the JAC’s selection or rejecting a name or asking for it to be

reconsidered. The grounds on which he can reject or ask for reconsideration

are strictly limited by statute and reasons must be given in writing.

14 The Constitutional Reform Act 2005 established the Judicial Appointments Commission (JAC) as

an independent body to select judicial office holders in England and Wales. Scotland has had a

separate JAC for a number of years. 27


The Governance of Britain 1. Limiting the powers of the executive

71. The Government is willing to look at the future of its role in judicial

appointments: to consider going further than the present arrangement,

including conceivably a role for Parliament itself, after consultation with

the judiciary, Parliament and the public, if it is felt that there is a need.

In consulting on this issue the Government will also take account of the

roles in judicial appointments of Ministers in the devolved administrations.

Streamlining public appointments

Improving current processes and strengthening the House of Commons’ role

72. Public bodies at arm’s-length from Ministers play an important role in

public life across a range of areas ranging from the regulation of key

utilities to health service bodies and from the boards of museums and

galleries to those who can investigate complaints about the way key public

services are provided. All in all there are some 21,000 such appointments

and ultimately they are the responsibility of Ministers, who are accountable

to Parliament for these appointments.

73. Lord Nolan’s report in 1995 recommended a number of measures designed

to bolster public confidence in such appointments. The independent Office

of the Commissioner for Public Appointments was created, which oversees

and audits a wide range of public appointments in line with core principles

of appointment on merit, probity and transparency.

74. Building on these improvements, the Government believes the time is

now right to go further and seek to involve Parliament in the appointment

of key public officials. The role of Parliament, and specifically the issue of

Committee hearings with those nominated for office, has been the subject

of considerable debate over the past decade. Some, including the

Commissioner for Public Appointments, have drawn attention to potential

risks about deterring suitable candidates and the need for confidentiality

in appointments processes, because, for example, a number of key

appointments could impact on the financial markets.

75. However, there are a number of positions in which Parliament has a

particularly strong interest because the officeholder exercises statutory or

other powers in relation to protecting the public’s rights and interests. Some

of these appointments are not subject to oversight by the Commissioner

for Public Appointments or other form of independent scrutiny.

28 |

The Governance of Britain 1. Limiting the powers of the executive

76. The Government therefore believes that Parliament, through its select

committees, should play this role. It therefore proposes that the Government

nominee for key positions such as those listed below should be subject to

a pre-appointment hearing with the relevant select committee. The hearing

would be non-binding, but in the light of the report from the committee,

Ministers would decide whether to proceed. The hearings would cover

issues such as the candidate’s suitability for the role, his or her key

priorities, and the process used in selection.

77. The Government, in consultation with the Liaison Committee, will prepare

a list of such appointments for which these hearings will apply. Where

responsibility is devolved, it will be for the respective administration to

consider the appointment. Examples might include:

• The First Civil Service Commissioner (following the announcement by

the Government that it is to legislate to place the Civil Service and its

independent Commissioners on a statutory footing, it is right that

Parliament should have a role in this appointment);

• The Commissioner for Public Appointments (who is responsible for

ensuring public confidence in several thousand other appointments);

• The Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration and Health

Service Commissioner for England (who is responsible for investigating

maladministration in central government and the NHS);

• The Local Government Ombudsman for England; and

• Independent inspectors such as the Chief Inspector of Prisons and the

Chief Inspector of Probation for England and Wales.

78. This list will be kept under review and discussed with the Liaison Committee,

and, where appropriate, the Commissioner for Public Appointments.

79. For market-sensitive and certain other appointments, including the

Governor and the two Deputy Governors of the Bank of England, the

Chairman of the Financial Services Authority, and some utility regulators,

there is a particular set of issues around confirmation hearings. But the

Government does believe that it is important to ensure greater

accountability than currently exists. So, for these positions, once the

appointment has been approved, the relevant select committee will be

invited to convene a hearing with the nominee before he or she takes up

post. The relevant department will consult with the select committee as

to what such hearings might usefully cover. 29


The Governance of Britain 1. Limiting the powers of the executive

80. The Statistics and Registration Service Bill, currently before Parliament,

provides for the creation of an independent Statistics Board, with a non-

executive Chair, appointed by the Crown. Because of the importance of

this appointment in ensuring public confidence in official statistics, the

Government believes that there should be a vote in the House of

Commons to confirm the Government’s nominee.

81. In other areas, the Government wishes to explore the scope for improving

appointments processes in line with the best practice of the Commissioner

for Public Appointments. There has been a separate process for NHS

appointments since 2001 when the Appointments Commission was created,

and this area will now be reviewed.

Limiting Ministers’ involvement in the granting of honours

82. Honours are awarded at New Year and on The Queen’s Official Birthday in

June. While a small number of awards are the personal gift of The Queen,

the remainder are made on the basis of recommendations by the Prime

Minister, or the Foreign Secretary or Defence Secretary for overseas and

military honours respectively.

83. It is critical to the integrity of the honours process that it operates and

is seen to operate in an impartial and transparent manner. This has been

the motivation behind the recent set of reforms to the honours system

brought about following the two reviews of the system conducted by the

15 and Sir Hayden Phillips and

Select Committee on Public Administration



both published in 2004

84. For the Prime Minister’s List eight specialist committees – of which the

Chairs and majority of members (selected after open advertising) are not

civil servants – make recommendations to a central Honours Committee.

This is chaired by the Cabinet Secretary and includes the chairs of all the

specialist committees. It reviews the proposals. The final list is forwarded

to the Prime Minister for submission to The Queen. Candidates come

from two streams: Government Departments submit names put to them

by outside organisations, or identified through departmental work; and

names are proposed by members of the public.

85. In March 2006, the Prime Minister’s predecessor made a statement in

which he committed neither to add to nor subtract from the final list of

names recommended to him by the Main Honours Committee. The Prime

Minister restates this commitment and the Secretaries of State for Foreign

Affairs and Defence will do likewise.

15 House of Commons Public Administration Select Committee, A Matter of Honour: Reforming the

Fifth Report of Session 2003-04, HC 212-I, 7 July 2004.

Honours System,

16 Sir Hayden Phillips, Cabinet Office, 2004.

Review of the Honours System,

30 |

The Governance of Britain 2. Making the executive more accountable

2. Making the executive

more accountable

86. The Government wants to ensure that the powers that it holds are

legitimately owned and fairly used. As explained above, the Government

will be consulting on how best to ensure that it has appropriate authority

and no more than is required. In the UK’s system, the separation of

powers ensures that no one institution can wield too much influence over

the others: Parliament, the executive and the judiciary balance each other.

It is an organic relationship which evolves and requires continual review.

87. Chapter 1 explained that the Government wishes to strengthen Parliament

to ensure that its powers continue to be exercised effectively and in a

way that means the people whom it serves understand its work and have

confidence in its decisions. But it is also vital that in exercising the powers

that it legitimately holds, it is answerable to the people who elected it.

At all times the people’s elected representatives play the crucial role of

holding government to account, and at least every five years, the UK

electorate has the opportunity to vote to elect a government. The British

system affords strength to the executive, enabling it to pursue the public’s

wishes. But that strength must not be unfettered. If a political system

is to be trusted by the public it serves, it is vital that the power of the

executive is held to account.

88. This chapter discusses various methods for ensuring that the executive

is appropriately accountable for its actions. As security issues rise up the

political agenda, government decisions on security and intelligence must

be subject to proper scrutiny. More generally, Parliament needs to be

equipped to call the executive to account and proposals in this chapter

seek to add to the scrutiny that Parliament can exercise over government,

including over the behaviour of Ministers. The Government also believes

that people within their communities should be able to hold the executive

to account over local issues. In Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland

devolution has put power closer to the people and the Government has

now created Regional Ministers in England. Proposals for regional select

committees seek the same aim. 31


The Governance of Britain 2. Making the executive more accountable

National security

Intelligence and Security Committee

89. Ensuring the security of the nation in the face of terrorist and other

dangers is the first responsibility of government. The security and

intelligence Agencies play a vital role in this and other aspects of the

Government’s national security policies. To ensure that these Agencies

command full public support for, and confidence in, the work they do it is

important that the representatives of the people hold them to account in

an appropriate manner, while respecting operational sensitivities.

90. The work of the security and intelligence Agencies often, by its nature,

involves highly-classified information, disclosure of which would be

gravely damaging to the national interest and could put individuals at risk.

This must be a fundamental consideration in determining the conduct of

parliamentary scrutiny if the oversight is not to undermine the operational

effectiveness of the Agencies. In order to exercise effective oversight over

the expenditure, administration and policy of the Agencies, the Committee

scrutinising their work needs regular access to much more highly-classified

information and evidence than that normally shared with select committees

of the House. The Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC) was, therefore,

established – as, effectively, the Select Committee for the Agencies – under

separate legislation by the Intelligence Services Act 1994.

91. The ISC has senior and well-qualified membership from both Houses, drawn

from all the major parties. It has acted independently and assiduously to

scrutinise the work of the Agencies and other parts of the intelligence

community. Its reports are published and debated in Parliament. However,

because they are prepared under separate arrangements and the

Committee meets only in private, some argue that the process is

insufficiently transparent.

92. So the Government proposes to consult on how the statutory basis of the

Intelligence and Security Committee should be amended to bring the way

in which it is appointed, operates and reports as far as possible into line

with that of other select committees, while maintaining the necessary

arrangements for access to, and safeguarding of, highly-classified

information on which effective security depends.

93. While the consultation on the Committee’s statutory basis is ongoing, a

number of interim changes could be made within the existing legislation:

• greater transparency over how Committee members are appointed,

using similar processes of consultation between the major parties as

those for select committee selection;

32 |

The Governance of Britain 2. Making the executive more accountable

• giving the Committee the option to meet in public (including, if

Parliament agrees, in the Houses of Parliament);

• House of Commons debates on the Committee’s reports, to be led by

the Chair of the Committee rather than by a Government Minister,

with reports also debated in the House of Lords; and

• strengthening the Secretariat to the Committee, including through

the appointment of an independent investigator, and making the

Secretariat clearly separate from the staff of the Cabinet Office.

(The Committee takes evidence in, and has a Secretariat based in,

the Cabinet Office for security reasons).

94. There is also an overlapping agenda between the work of the Home

Affairs Committee, the Foreign Affairs Select Committee and the ISC

with all three touching on issues relating to counter-terrorism and security.

The Government is keen that their oversight activity is, taken together,

as effective as possible.

95. The Government will invite the Chair of the Committee to advise on how

to maximise the effectiveness of the Committee’s scrutiny role, including

on the Committee’s relationship to Parliament and to relevant select

committees, under the existing legislation.

96. Following consultation, the Government will then bring forward proposals

to take the reforms further on a revised statutory basis.

National Security Strategy

97. The Government will publish a National Security Strategy setting out our

approach to the range of security challenges and opportunities we face,

now and in the future and both at home and overseas. The strategy will

set the framework for taking forward those issues across a range of

departments and agencies, and provide the basis for deciding on changes

in priorities to reflect changed circumstances.

98. To oversee the development and delivery of that strategy, and the

Government’s wider international, European and international development

policies, the Government will establish a National Security Committee to

ensure that its policies and their delivery are coordinated and appropriate

to the changing nature of the risks and challenges facing us in the 21st

century. The Committee will meet regularly, under the Chairmanship of

the Prime Minister, and comprise senior Cabinet colleagues from relevant

departments, supported by relevant senior officials and a secretariat in the

Cabinet Office. It will replace the existing Ministerial Committees on

Defence and Overseas Policy, Security and Terrorism, and Europe. 33


The Governance of Britain 2. Making the executive more accountable

99. The Government will consult Parliament over how the strategy and its

implementation can best be scrutinised, as it affects the interests of a

number of select committees and the Intelligence and Security Committee.

Parliament’s scrutiny of Government

100. Each year the Government sets out its legislative programme. This typically

contains around 30 bills and is formally announced by Her Majesty The

Queen in The Queen’s Speech at the start of the parliamentary Session.

The Government believes that, while preparing its advice to The Queen

on the contents of the Speech, it should seek the views of Parliament

and the public.

101. The Prime Minister will, therefore, at an appropriate time in advance of

The Queen’s Speech, inform Parliament of the Government’s proposed

legislative programme for the forthcoming year. This will be followed by

a publication outlining the bills proposed. The Government will seek the

views of Parliament and the public on the list of bills and the content of

those bills and will consider the most appropriate use of parliamentary time.

102. The Queen’s Speech will remain the only formal, final announcement

of the Government’s legislative programme and the principal national

occasion in which The Queen outlines the programme of Her government.

However, the new arrangements will ensure that Parliament and the

public have an early opportunity to discuss its plans and priorities before

the programme is formally announced.

Departmental debates in the House of Commons

103. At present, the annual objectives of some Government Departments, and

the Departments’ plans for achieving those objectives, although often

scrutinised by select committees of the House of Commons, are only

rarely scrutinised on the floor of the House.

104. There are some exceptions. Every year, the House scrutinises the objectives

and plans of HM Treasury in its debates following the publication of the

Budget and the Pre-Budget Report; there is a debate on the Defence

Estimates, which scrutinises the plans of the Ministry of Defence; and, by

tradition, there is a debate on Welsh issues on or around St David’s Day. In

addition, there is a five-day debate in both Houses following The Queen’s

Speech, which includes discussion of the bills which Departments intend

to take through Parliament during that session. From now on, there will

also be the opportunity to debate the legislative programme in advance

of The Queen’s Speech.

34 |

The Governance of Britain 2. Making the executive more accountable

105. Each Department is scrutinised by Departmental questions in the Commons

and by a Departmental select committee, which can investigate any

subject that falls within the remit of the Department, seek evidence from

experts and Ministers as part of its inquiry and produce a report to which

the Government is obliged to respond within two months. But if the

Government’s response is unfavourable to the committee’s recommendations,

the select committee has little opportunity to press its case. Select

committee reports can currently be debated in a three hour slot in 17

Westminster Hall. The subjects are chosen by the Liaison Committee.

There are typically around 20 such debates each year. But there is rarely

a full debate on the floor of the House on a select committee report and

such reports more usually deal with an individual topic rather than the

generality of a Department’s responsibilities.

106. Departments are also subject to parliamentary scrutiny and accountability

through debates in Westminster Hall, where concerned backbench MPs

can raise topics. Although these debates give a valuable opportunity to

probe government policy, they all take place technically on a motion for

adjournment and hence Parliament’s opportunity to challenge Government

policy is limited.

107. Consequently, except for HM Treasury, the Ministry of Defence and Welsh

affairs, scrutiny of Departmental objectives and plans on the floor of the

House is conducted only on an basis, and, as a result, a year can

ad hoc

pass with the objectives and plans of some Departments having never

been properly discussed.

108. The Government believes that the House of Commons should be

guaranteed an opportunity to debate, on the floor of the House, the

annual objectives and plans of the major Government Departments in

order to strengthen further Parliament’s scrutiny of the executive. The

Government will therefore ask the House of Commons Modernisation

Committee to consider ways to provide for this.

Transparency of Government expenditure

109. A key role of Parliament, and of the House of Commons in particular,

is to hold the Government to account for expenditure. The Government

intends to make it easier for Parliament to do so by improving the

transparency and accountability of Government expenditure, in line with


recommendations from the House of Commons Treasury Committee.

17 The Liaison Committee is chaired by Rt Hon Alan Williams (Labour, Swansea West) and includes

the 30 Chairmen of select committees.

18 The House of Commons Treasury Committee’s Sixth Report Session 2006-07 on the Comprehensive

Spending Review 2007 (HC279 – published on 25 June). 35


The Governance of Britain 2. Making the executive more accountable

110. At present there are three different systems for presenting Government

expenditure. The Government uses budgets to plan what it will spend;

then it presents Estimates to Parliament for approval; and finally, after

the year-end, it publishes resource accounts. There are some important

differences between these three systems. Although there are good historic

reasons for the evolution of different systems, the current state of affairs

can be confusing for users and consumers; restricts good financial

management in Departments; is costly and inefficient for Government;

and makes it difficult for the House of Commons to track how resources

are being used.

111. The Government will therefore simplify its reporting to Parliament,

ensuring that it reports in a more consistent fashion, in line with the

fiscal rules, at all three stages in the process; on plans, Estimates and

actual expenditure outturns. This will make it easier for Parliament to

understand how the Government has used the resources voted to it,

and thus to hold the Government to account. It will also mean greater

administrative efficiency. The Government will consult on how best to

effect this simplification.

Independence of the Office for National Statistics

112. Impartial information is vital to an open and democratic society. The

official statistics produced across Government are used to make decisions

about society and the economy, and by people to better understand their

country and how it is changing. In order to enhance the quality and

integrity of official statistics, the Government has laid the Statistics and

Registration Services Bill before Parliament.

113. The Bill provides for the creation of a new body, the Statistics Board, with

statutory responsibility for ensuring the quality and comprehensiveness

of official statistics. The Board will oversee what is currently the Office

for National Statistics (ONS), and providing independent scrutiny of

official statistics wherever produced. The Board will be a Non-Ministerial

Department, acting at arm’s length from Ministers. Its responsibilities will

cover the whole UK statistical system, including England, Scotland, Wales

and Northern Ireland. The Board will replace the current role of ministers

with respect to the ONS, with an executive office, headed by the national

statistician, acting as the ONS’s successor body. As explained in Chapter 1,

the Government believes that appointments to the Chair of the Board

should be subject to confirmation by Parliament.

36 |

The Governance of Britain 2. Making the executive more accountable

114. The Government has also announced further changes to help improve

trust in statistics. The British public expect, and the British media demands,

that Ministers are able to account immediately for the implications of

statistics about policy areas for which they are democratically responsible.

Some have suggested, however, that the existing arrangements for giving

Ministers advance sight of National Statistics are overly generous and

contribute to a perception of Ministerial interference in statistics, which

in turn has an impact on trust in statistics. The Government therefore

previously announced its intention to reduce pre-release such access from

up to five days (as now) to 40.5 hours for all statistics. Recognising the

continuing concern about pre-release arrangements, the Government will

go even further, reducing pre-release access to National Statistics to a

maximum of 24 hours. This tightening of current arrangements will be

set out in secondary legislation, alongside rules and principles to guide

departments in reducing the number of people that receive pre-release

access, and to which statistics.

Regions and responsibility

Regional Ministers

115. There are nine regional Government Offices in England providing

“central government in the regions”, implementing a wide range of

policies on behalf of 11 Whitehall Departments. There are also nine

Regional Development Agencies (RDAs). RDAs drive and co-ordinate

regional economic development and regeneration. Their aim is to

improve their relative competitiveness and reduce imbalances within

and between regions.

116. The Prime Minister appointed Ministers for the English regions on 28 June

2007. Regional Ministers are responsible for providing a clear sense of

strategic direction for their region. Regional Ministers also give citizens

a voice in central government, ensuring that government policy takes

account of the differing needs of the nine English regions. Regional Ministers

will make central government more visible in the regions, helping to raise

its profile and generate awareness of the political system.

117. There are a range of functions that Regional Ministers will undertake.

These are mostly clustered around the responsibilities of the Government

Offices and the RDAs, particularly in relation to economic development.

Regional Ministers will be able to take questions in Parliament on the

work of regional bodies, and on regional strategies. Regional Ministers 37


The Governance of Britain 2. Making the executive more accountable

will be a visible representative of their area – they will take a key role

in bringing together local services and different arms of government at

important times for the region, whether in bidding for or hosting major

sporting occasions (eg the Commonwealth Games); or when a region

faces difficult challenges (eg the severe flooding afflicting Yorkshire and

the Humber, and the East and West Midlands in June 2007).

118. The role of Regional Ministers is to:

• advise the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory

Reform on the approval of regional strategies and appointment of RDA

Chairs and Boards;

• represent regional interests in the formulation of central government

policy relevant to economic growth and sustainable development in

areas that have not been devolved to the RDAs;

• facilitate a joined up approach across government departments and

agencies to enable the effective delivery of the single regional strategy;

• champion the region at high level events and with regard to high

profile projects (including through a programme of regional visits); and

• represent the Government with regard to central government policy

at regional select committee hearings and at parliamentary debates

focused specifically on the region.

Regional select committees

119. The Government believes that Regional Ministers should be accountable

to Parliament. Both they and the Government’s regional policy should

be subject to formal and consistent parliamentary scrutiny. In common

with the Communities and Local Government Select Committee the

Government believes that one means of achieving this scrutiny could be

the establishment of nine regional select committees. The Committee

highlighted the possible need for specific provisions governing how such

committees might operate, such as limitations on the number of

meetings. The Communities and Local Government Select Committee’s

19 highlighted the potential benefits such arrangements could bring,


including effective examination of the work of regional bodies and calling

Ministers to account.

19 House of Commons ODPM, Housing, Planning, Local Government and the Regions Committee,

Fourth Report of Session 2006-7, HC352-I.

Is there a future for Regional Government?

38 |

The Governance of Britain 2. Making the executive more accountable

120. Consideration of changes to the way the House of Commons operates

is ultimately a matter for the House itself, informed as appropriate by

relevant committees including the Procedure and Modernisation Select

Committees. The Government looks forward to consideration of these

proposals within the House and believes that they would offer an

important step forward in democratic accountability and scrutiny

of the delivery of public services in the English regions.

Reforming the Ministerial Code

121. The Ministerial Code outlines the behaviour that is expected of Ministers.

Until now, it has developed over decades as an amalgam of good practice,

but it has become outdated and unwieldy. The Prime Minister has

therefore tightened the Code. There are a number of key changes to it:

• a new Independent Adviser will be appointed to advise on Ministers’

interests. He or she will be able, at the Prime Minister’s request, to

investigate alleged breaches of the Ministerial Code;

• the Independent Adviser on Ministers’ Interests will publish an Annual

Report and List of Ministers’ Interests. Subsequent lists will be published

with the Independent Adviser’s Annual Report;

• the Annual Report will be laid before Parliament to ensure proper

scrutiny of ministerial conduct;

• Ministers wishing to take up an outside appointment on leaving office

will be required to seek the advice of the Advisory Committee on

Business Appointment Rules. Former Ministers will be expected to

follow the advice of the Committee. This has, until now, been voluntary. 39


The Governance of Britain 3. Re-invigorating our democracy

3. Re-invigorating our democracy

122. Parliament stands at the apex of the political system, the supreme

legislative body of the United Kingdom. It is a major symbol of what it

means to be British. Looking beyond Parliament, it is vital that our

institutions more widely are legitimate, trusted, and responsive to the

people they serve.

123. As has been discussed throughout this paper, action is needed across the

breadth of the political system to promote and restore trust in politics

and in our political institutions: Parliament is at the core of this effort.

Low levels of public confidence, concentrated power in the executive and

the growth of alternative centres of political power mean that further

reforms are required to help Parliament reassert itself and establish a

clearer identity.

124. The way to overcome these fundamental challenges is to strengthen

Parliament and renew its accountability.

125. The devolution settlement across the United Kingdom reflects the

Government’s wish to ensure that decision-making is done at the right level:

whether national, regional or in the local community. Britain is now more

diverse than it has ever been. In some London boroughs there are over

190 community languages spoken. Such diversity has had great benefits

for the UK, not just economically, but also culturally, with recent surveys

showing that foreign-born residents feel a strong attachment to this

country. There is growing recognition of the need to ensure that Britain

remains a cohesive society, confident in its shared identity and secure in

the face of the challenges it faces both at home and abroad.

126. There has been increased disengagement from formal political processes

in recent years. This is particularly marked among young people: only 37

per cent of 18-24 year olds voted in the 2005 general election. The UK

is also experiencing low levels of public trust in politics and politicians.

It is therefore a priority to introduce measures to revive trust in political

decision-making and to facilitate popular engagement with political processes.

127. This chapter sets out a number of proposals to revitalise Parliament and

increase its accountability – by further reform of the House of Lords and

by introducing measures for facilitating popular engagement with the

political process.

40 |

The Governance of Britain 3. Re-invigorating our democracy

128. It also sets out proposals to re-invigorate our democracy by making sure

that decisions are made as close as possible to the people they will affect

and are responsive to the needs of local communities. The Government is

committed to finding new ways for citizens and communities to influence

decisions, and the best ways to enable people to participate in the political

process. Participation can take the form of voting, of course, but we must

also consider other ways in which individuals and groups can influence the

decisions that affect their lives. This might range from providing new ways

for individuals to raise issues of concern in their local area to supporting

citizens who want to take a more direct role in the running of local services.

Renewing the accountability of Parliament

House of Lords reform

129. In 1999 the Government enacted a historic and long overdue reform to

Parliament’s second chamber. The House of Lords Act 1999 provided for

the removal of the sitting and voting rights of the majority of hereditary

peers and established a mechanism for retaining 90 hereditary peers through

a process of election (75 elected by hereditary peers in their party groups

and 15 by the whole House. There are two other hereditary peers who are

the hereditary office holders, the Earl Marshal and the Lord Great Chamberlain).

130. These reforms were a fundamental step towards a more legitimate and

assertive second chamber which has scrutinised the work of the Government

more effectively, thereby improving British democracy overall.

131. The Government remains committed to further reform of the House of

Lords, to increase its legitimacy, to make it more representative and

ensure that it is effective in the face of the challenges of this century.

132. In May 2006 the Government supported the establishment of a Joint

Committee to examine the conventions governing the relationship between

the two Houses of Parliament. The Committee’s report, published in

November 2006, provides clarity on those conventions and is an invaluable

baseline for the debate on the future of the House of Lords.

133. Over the past year, the Secretary of State for Justice and Lord Chancellor,

in his previous role as Leader of the House of Commons, has been chairing

cross-party talks on House of Lords reform. These talks have been successful

in building up a significant degree of consensus on a range of issues, which

20 and

was reflected in the White Paper on Lords reform of February 2007

20 The House of Lords: Reform, Cm 7027, London, The Stationery Office, 2007. 41


The Governance of Britain 3. Re-invigorating our democracy

which provided the foundations for the free votes held in Parliament on

the future composition of the House of Lords in March 2007.

134. Following the Joint Committee’s report, the Government undertook to

look further at whether the current conventions would ensure the desired

relationship in a differently constituted House, once the free votes had

been held.

135. The Government believes, as many reports on House of Lords reform

have advocated, that the current relationship between the two Houses

of Parliament is the right one, however the second chamber is composed.

It accepts, however, that this relationship may well need to be more

explicitly defined than now if the balance of power between the two

chambers is to survive major reform of the second chamber.

136. On 7 March 2007 the House of Commons, in its free votes, came out in

favour by a large majority of a wholly elected House of Lords. The

Commons also supported a reformed second chamber based on an 80 per

cent elected, 20 per cent appointed composition but rejected the other

hybrid options. The Government welcomes the results of the free vote and

21 The Conservative and

is committed to enacting the will of the Commons.

Liberal Democrat parties are also committed, in their 2005 manifestos, to

a substantially elected House of Lords.

137. The Secretary of State for Justice and Lord Chancellor will continue to lead

cross-party discussions with a view to bringing forward a comprehensive

package to complete House of Lords reform. The Government will develop

reforms for a substantially or wholly elected second chamber and will

explore how the existing powers of the chamber should apply to the

reformed chamber.

138. As part of this package, the Government is committed to removing the

anomaly of the remaining hereditary peers. This will be in line with the

wishes of the House of Commons, which voted by a majority of 280 to

remove the hereditary peers in the free votes in March 2007.

Revitalising the House of Commons

139. The Government welcomes the recent report of the House of Commons

Modernisation Committee, Revitalising the Chamber: the role of the back

22 which aims to build on past reforms by improving the

bench Member,

topicality of the Chamber, the engagement of Members and the use of

21 House of Commons Hansard, Col 1601-1633, 7 March 2007.

22 House of Commons Select Committee on Modernisation of the House of Commons, Revitalising

First Report of Session 2006–07, HC 337,

the Chamber: the role of the back bench Member,

London, The Stationery Office Limited, 20 June 2007.

42 |

The Governance of Britain 3. Re-invigorating our democracy

non-legislative time. It is for Parliament to decide whether to implement

the report’s recommendations and the Government will support

Parliament’s wishes.

140. In 2000 the Government introduced the Freedom of Information Act,

which was fully implemented in 2005. It has opened up the public sector

to unprecedented scrutiny. Over 110,000 public bodies are covered by the

Act, and importantly the House of Commons and House of Lords are

among them. It is right that Parliament should be covered by the Act.

The Government welcomes the recent debate about the confidentiality

of MPs’ correspondence with their constituents. The Secretary of State

for Justice and Lord Chancellor will be working with the Information

Commissioner in the coming weeks to produce guidance to public

authorities to ensure that they apply the Act in a way that balances

openness with the need to protect the privacy of constituents.

Westminster and devolution

141. Parliament at Westminster remains at the heart of our system of governance.

There can be no doubt that the creation of the United Kingdom Parliament

through the Acts of Union was an essential precondition for Britain’s economic,

social and democratic development, and for Britain’s rise as a world power.

It was also one of the important factors in the growth of a British way of

life based on active citizenship, a volunteering spirit and a strong civic society.

142. Links between the nations of the Union have been forged over centuries

of intermarriage, friendship and migration. All parts of the UK have made

an enormous contribution over the years to our economy and our culture.

The Union represents our values and gives them expression to the world.

Our constituent nations have retained their separate identity, but at the

same time have drawn from and influenced each other.

143. Devolution does not cede ultimate sovereignty. The decisions Parliament

takes have consequences for all the people of our nation. The great strength

of our constitution is its effectiveness. It can accommodate difference and

rough edges in support of wider goals of national unity, affiliation to the

institutions of the state and the service of those institutions to the public.

144. Different laws and special legislation for Scotland did not begin in 1999.

Indeed, it was a fundamental part of the early 18th century settlement,

which led to and was enshrined in the Act of Union 1707, that the

separate and distinct institutions of Scotland – its legal system, criminal

and civil law, its church, its education system and much else – would

continue to be respected. So for nearly three centuries – until 1999 –

there was separate legislation for Scotland, and separate executive 43


The Governance of Britain 3. Re-invigorating our democracy

decisions affecting Scotland. The difference was that these were made by

the Westminster Parliament, often without controversy, but sometimes,

as with the introduction of the poll tax in Scotland in 1989, in highly

controversial circumstances. The separate expenditure decisions were

made by a single Minister, the Secretary of State for Scotland.

Making Parliament more representative

145. The Sex Discrimination (Electoral Candidates) Act 2002 provides that

arrangements made by a registered political party which regulate the

selection of candidates for election, and are adopted for the purpose of

reducing inequality in the numbers of men and women elected to be

members of Parliament, are lawful. The Act provides for this arrangement

to end in 2015 unless a statutory instrument is passed, by affirmative

resolution, to extend that date.

146. The recent Equalities Review, chaired by Trevor Phillips and published in

23 recognised the decision to allow political parties to

February 2007,

adopt all-women shortlists for a temporary period had a “substantial,

and beneficial, impact on the gender balance of the House of Commons,

which would not otherwise have occurred”. It noted that there was some

way to go in balancing the gender mix.

147. The Government is committed to reducing gender inequality in the

representation of the people. As stated in the recent consultation document

24 it wants to keep the law under review,

from A Framework for Fairness,

and will if necessary extend the provisions in the Sex Discrimination

(Electoral Candidates) Act 2002 beyond 2015 (as the Act allows) to allow

all-women shortlists to continue to be used.

148. Representation of minority ethnic communities in the Houses of Parliament

remains very low. Just 2.3 per cent of MPs returned at the 2005 general

election came from a non-white background, and the Government is anxious

to see this increase. also invites views on whether

A Framework for Fairness

to allow wider scope for positive action than is currently allowed in this area

to target the selection of candidates from minority ethnic communities.

23 The Final Report of the Equalities Review, Cabinet

The Equalities Review, Fairness and Freedom:

Office, February 2007.

24 Discrimination Law Review: A Framework for Fairness: Proposals for a Single Equality Bill for Great

– A consultation paper, Department for Communities and Local Government, June 2007.


44 |

The Governance of Britain 3. Re-invigorating our democracy

Election day

149. In a modern world, where people are leading busier lives and rightly

expect convenience and a range of choice in how they access services

from both public and private sector, voting needs to be convenient. 25

In research conducted by MORI for the Electoral Commission in 2001,

21 per cent of non-voters said ‘I couldn’t get to the polling station

because it was too inconvenient’. Female voters are more likely to give

this reason, perhaps because they most often have to juggle work and

childcare commitments alongside voting.

150. The Government has extended the use of postal voting with appropriate

safeguards and continues to pilot a range of measures to make voting

more convenient. As part of the electoral modernisation programme the

Government has piloted advance voting at the weekend. However, under

current legislation advance voting can only be in addition to the normal

polling day. In the longer term, the Government is investigating the potential

benefits of remote electronic voting (using the internet and telephone

systems), taking advantage of developing communications technologies

to provide increased flexibility and choice in the way people vote.

151. The Government wishes to consider further measures to make voting more

convenient and therefore proposes to examine the case for moving the

26 The

voting to the weekend for both general and, potentially, local elections.

last time local authorities were comprehensively surveyed in 2002, 57 per

cent were in favour of pilots testing the effect of weekend voting on turnout.

152. Holding general elections on a working weekday puts the UK in a minority

among Western democracies. While the Netherlands, Denmark, Ireland,

the US and Canada have elections on weekdays, the great majority of

other European countries hold elections either at the weekend or on a

public holiday.

153. Every general election in England since 1945 has taken place on a Thursday,

but the statutory requirement is only that a general election must be held

on a week day. Prior to 1945, general elections took place on a variety of

days; the last UK general election to take place on a weekend was on

Saturday, December 14th 1918. Local elections are now required by law to

be held on a Thursday but for a time elections to certain Urban District

Councils were held on Saturdays.

25 Survey Of Attitudes During The 2001 General Election Campaign, MORI Social Research Institute,

Politico’s, 24 July 2001.

26 Empirical studies are not conclusive, but one study has shown a potential 5-6 per cent increase

in turnout by moving elections to the weekend, holding other factors constant. 45


The Governance of Britain 3. Re-invigorating our democracy

154. The Government will therefore consult local authorities and others on the

merits of moving the voting day for general and/or local elections from

Thursday to the weekend, and on the best way to do this. Moving to

weekends for either general or local elections would require legislation.

The consultation will take into account the needs of religious groups, to

ensure that those with religious objections to voting on a Saturday or

Sunday have an opportunity to vote in a way that is consistent with their

beliefs. It will also consider whether weekend voting would be more costly

than the current arrangements or if there might be a negative impact on

turnout for local elections. This might be a particular issue if local and

general elections were held close together but on separate days. These

proposals would not affect elections to the devolved legislatures.

Voting systems

155. Britain has a variety of proportional and plural electoral systems in place –

since 1997 the Government has introduced new voting systems for the

Scottish Parliament, the Welsh Assembly, and the London Mayoral and

Assembly elections as well as elections to the European Parliament.

156. In line with the Government’s manifesto, it is carrying out a review of the

experience of the new voting systems established since 1997 to contribute

to the debate. The review will include information on the elections for the

Northern Ireland Assembly in March 2007 and for the National Assembly

for Wales and the Scottish Parliament in May 2007. It is anticipated that

the review will be completed by the end of this year.

Improving direct democracy


157. The public petition is a historic and fundamental right and an ancient

tradition of Parliament. It allows people to unite around a common issue

and demonstrate their strength of feeling and resoluteness.

158. The House of Commons Procedure Committee has made recommendations

about the way the Government and the House of Commons in particular

27 The Government welcomes these suggestions.

should deal with petitions.

The Government believes that, as the primary representative and law-

making institution in the United Kingdom, the Commons should have

up-to-date procedures for considering petitions. Currently, there is no

27 House of Commons Procedure Committee, First Report of

Public Petitions and Early Day Motions,

Session 2006-07, HC 513, London, The Stationery Office Ltd., 22 May 2007.

46 |

The Governance of Britain 3. Re-invigorating our democracy

formal mechanism for the Commons to be required to consider a petition,

however many petitioners it represents, and there is no mechanism for

the Commons to receive an electronic petition.

159. If a paper petition is submitted to the House of Commons, it is presented

and placed in a bag attached to the back of the chair of the Speaker of

the House of Commons, printed within the Vote Bundle (the daily working

papers of the House of Commons, printed daily, including the agenda for

business in the Commons that day) and forwarded to the relevant select

committee and to the relevant Government Department, where it may or

may not receive a response. 28 ,

160. The current process of e-petitioning the 10 Downing Street website

introduced in November 2006, has attracted a large number of signatories.

Over 22,300 petitions have been set up by users, of which over 7,500 are

currently live and available for signing, more than 2,600 have finished and

more than 10,500 have been rejected outright – most often because of

duplication. There have been over 4,400,000 signatures. Once petitions

have closed, they are passed to officials who work for the Prime Minister

in Downing Street, or sent to the relevant Government Department for a

response. Every person who signs such a petition receives an email

detailing the Government’s response to the issues raised.

161. The Government believes that people should be able to petition the House

of Commons with as much ease as they are currently able to petition

the Prime Minister, and that there should be a procedure for handling

petitions which considers whether each merits a debate in Parliament.

162. The Government therefore looks forward to the further work of the

House of Commons Procedure Committee on how to ensure more formal

parliamentary consideration of petitions from members of the public.

163. A revised parliamentary petitions procedure which included an e-petitions

process would provide a modern mechanism for the public to engage with

Parliament and would allow Parliament to demonstrate that it actively

listens to the views of those it serves. It would not necessarily be a

substitute for petitioning the Government and the Prime Minister but

would create a formal conduit for members of the public to refer their

concerns directly to Parliament as a whole, with the knowledge that

petitions will be considered.

28 47


The Governance of Britain 3. Re-invigorating our democracy

Restrictions on protests around Parliament

164. The ability of citizens to campaign and protest is essential to a democracy.

No government should place unnecessary restrictions on this right. For

decades the Commons sessional orders effectively prohibited demonstrations

in an area around Westminster when Parliament was sitting. However,

the Government is aware of the strong views expressed in reaction to the

provisions on protests around Parliament introduced in sections 132-138

of the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005, both in terms of the

principle behind these restrictions and how they have operated in practice.

The current restrictions require protesters to obtain authorisation from

the police before demonstrating in the vicinity of Parliament and to abide

by any conditions imposed by the police on a demonstration.

165. Freedom of expression is a fundamental British value, and the right to

peaceful protest has long been regarded as an important component of

the liberties of British citizens. This right is also protected by Articles 10

29 incorporated into

and 11 of the European Convention on Human Rights,

UK law by the Human Rights Act 1998.

166. The Government will therefore consult widely on the provisions in the

Serious Organised Crime and Police Act with a view to ensuring that

people’s right to protest is not subject to unnecessary restrictions. This

review will need to reflect the security situation and allow the business of

Parliament to proceed unhindered, but will be conducted with a presumption

in favour of freedom of expression. In return, protesters will of course

need to obey the law and relevant bylaws.

Right of charities to campaign

167. It is frequently noted that while public engagement with the formal

political process in terms of membership of political parties and voting

in elections has reduced, other forms of engagement have increased.

In particular, levels of membership of pressure groups have grown, while

citizens are more likely than ever to sign a petition or boycott a product.

Third sector campaigning organisations, such as Make Poverty History,

play an ever more important role in driving social, economic and

environmental change.

168. In this context, it is important to ensure that the regulatory framework for

the third sector, together with the Government’s consultation mechanisms

and investments in strengthening the organisational capacity of the sector,

help it to foster and harness community voices on important issues of

public policy. The Government will therefore work with the Charity

29 European Convention on Human Rights, 1950.

48 |

The Governance of Britain 3. Re-invigorating our democracy

Commission, and sector leaders to explore the options


for enabling charities and other sector organisations to better campaign

on issues that are likely to advance the cause of the purposes for which

they have been established. As part of this process, the Government will

consider the recommendations of the recent report of the independent

Advisory Group on Campaigning and the Voluntary Sector, chaired by

Baroness Helena Kennedy QC (23 May 2007).

Local communities

169. Much of this paper focuses on how government and Parliament interact,

and how power should be shared between them. But power should not

just be devolved from the national government to the national Parliament:

power must also rest with local communities. In the past individuals and

communities have tended to be seen as passive recipients of services

provided by the state. However, in recent years people have demonstrated

that they are willing to take a more active role, and that this can help

improve services and create stronger communities. The Government

believes it must find new ways to enable people to become active citizens,

empowered and fully engaged in local decision-making. The Government

will enhance democracy by devolving more power directly to the people.

It will consult on the following areas:

• extending the right of people to intervene with their elected

representatives through community rights to call for action;

• duties to consult on major decisions through mechanisms such as

citizens’ juries;

• powers of redress to scrutinise and improve the delivery of local

services; and

• powers to ballot on spending decisions.

170. –

Strong and Prosperous Communities The Local Government White Paper,

published last autumn set out a range of proposals for empowering local

30 The new Community Call for Action

communities in England (see Box 4).

enables local people to raise issues of concern in their area and demand

a response from their local council. Issues raised might range from the

quality of local youth services to a request for the transfer of a local asset

into community ownership. The transfer of assets to community control

creates a catalyst for active citizenship, as people come forward to run

and direct a local facility or service. The evidence suggests that if people

feel their efforts will be rewarded by real change in their communities,

they will be willing to step forward.

30 Following the consultation the Department for Communities and Local Government published

a White Paper – Strong and Prosperous Communities – The Local Government White Paper,

Cm 6939-I, London, The Stationery Office, October 2006. 49


The Governance of Britain 3. Re-invigorating our democracy

Empowering local communities

Box 4:

Strong and Prosperous Communities – The Local Government White Paper,

sets out a range of proposals for devolving power to citizens and

revitalising local democracy including:

• giving people a new right to an answer from their local authorities

when they demand action on any issue they want to raise through

a new Community Call for Action;

• increasing opportunities for communities to take on the

management and ownership of local assets and facilities such

as under-used community centres or empty schools;

• simplifying and extending the scope of tenant management

of housing;

• encouraging local charters between communities and service

providers which set out what local people can expect from their

services and how they can take action if standards are not being met;

• providing a new power of well-being for the best parish councils to

improve the development and coordination of support for citizens,

communities groups and local authorities; and

• changing the “Best Value” Duty to ensure that authorities inform,

consult, involve and devolve to all citizens and communities.

171. Communities in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales also have measures

to hold service providers to account. The Government will soon publish its

Sub- National Review of Economic Development which will signal a shift

of focus to local authorities, open up the possibility of powerful city

regions and give a clearer role for the regions of England.

172. To ensure that citizens have the opportunity to express their needs and

concerns to those who are providing public services, the White Paper set

out the new duty that the Government is placing on local authorities in

England to consult and involve local people in the major decisions which

affect them. This means that local authorities must take the views of

their communities into account and will make services more responsive

to their needs.

173. In recent years the Government has introduced Local Area Agreements,

which are individual agreements signed by central government with every

local authority. They set out the priorities in the local area and how the

local authority and other public service providers such as health and the

police will respond to them. The paper

Strong and Prosperous Communities

50 |

The Governance of Britain 3. Re-invigorating our democracy

also set out how the Government will strengthen these agreements,

ensuring that English local authorities have the flexibility to respond to

the needs and priorities expressed by the community.

174. The paper was an important first step

Strong and Prosperous Communities

in setting out how the Government will empower local communities.

Building on those proposals, the Government will also examine new ways

in which to strengthen the ability of citizens to influence local decisions

and hold service providers to account.

175. Petitions can provide an important way for local communities to express

collectively their views about an issue and generate local debate. They

can also improve the connection between residents and local authorities,

especially when they are taken seriously by local authorities. However

there is evidence that major petitions are often not fully analysed and

responded to. Introducing a more formal petitioning system would provide

another way to strengthen the ability of communities to have a legitimate

voice in, and direct influence on, local authority decision-making. It would

also help ensure that local authorities are aware of, and respond to, the

issues, concerns and aspirations of most importance to local people.

The Government is considering introducing a duty that requires local

authorities to consider and investigate petitions from local communities,

and guarantees petitioners and the wider community a response on the

issues which have been raised.

176. Enabling communities to take decisions about how to use local funds can

also help ensure that local priorities are being met. The Government will

explore the possibility of a new provision for local communities to apply

for devolved or delegated budgets to fund projects which will benefit the

local community. These might range from the creation of a new park or

playground to the provision of new services for the elderly.

177. To help make local services more accountable to local people, the Government

will also work with local authorities and public service providers in England

to ensure that there is widespread use of local real-time data. This will

provide communities with regular and accessible information on their

local services, helping citizens judge the effectiveness of those services

and giving them evidence on the performance of service providers. In vital

services which really affect peoples lives and the way that they feel about

their local community, we must explore further opportunities for citizens

to contribute to services in their area and ensure that services feel more

accountable to them. The Government will look in particular to take

further steps in policing and in health services. 51


The Governance of Britain 3. Re-invigorating our democracy

178. The Government currently supports the recruitment of thousands of

citizens to take on a wide range of lay governance and scrutiny roles

(eg, school governors, health trust members and tenant representatives).

Once recruited, however, they receive little support and there is no overall

co-ordination of the contribution that they make. The Government will

explore how citizens who have the potential and willingness to contribute

to public decision making can be better encouraged and supported to

realise that potential, in a much more systematic and cost effective way.

179. Creating a more participatory democracy requires a healthy representative

democracy at local level. It also requires citizens to understand the roles

of central and local government, and who can be held responsible for

the decisions and services which affect their lives. The performance of

local authorities, as measured though the Comprehensive Performance

Assessment, has improved greatly in recent years. The Secretary of State

for Communities and Local Government will now work with the Local

Government Association to establish a concordat to govern the relations

between central and local government. This will establish for the first

time an agreement on the rights and responsibilities of local government,

including its responsibilities to provide effective leadership of the local

area and to empower local communities where possible.





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Corso di laurea: Corso di laurea in scienze internazionali e istituzioni europee
Università: Milano - Unimi
A.A.: 2011-2012

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