Opinion Former Article

ERS: Society welcomes 'Real' Const. Renewal Bill

Tyler's amended Constitutional Renewal Bill would hand real power to people.

The Electoral Reform Society has warmly welcomed the Constitutional Renewal Bill which Lord Tyler presented in the Lords today.

The Society's Chief Executive Dr Ken Ritchie said:

"Constitutional reform has rarely been off the Government's agenda, but the debate - through neglect or design - has gone precisely nowhere. Thanks to Lord Tyler's bill Parliament will finally have a proper debate on the changes we really need in our constitution.

"To date the Government's ideas have been worthy but woefully inadequate. By ignoring the voting system they have skipped over the most basic way citizens relate to government. The fact that a party supported by a minority of the people won the last, and will certainly win the next General Election, is no mere detail - it is the foundation all our politics rests upon.

"This Bill would give us something Labour promised in 1997 but never delivered - a referendum on how we elect our MPs. Sadly it will not be in time to change the rules of the game before the next general election produces a hopelessly unrepresentative parliament."

The Bill would also lead to a referendum with a question set by a 'citizens' assembly' - an approach that has been tried and tested elsewhere.

The Electoral Reform Society has long advocated the use of a citizens' assembly, and one that is sufficiently large to represent all sections of society.

"A citizens' assembly would allow the people not the politicians to set the rules for politics. This decision doesn't need vested interests, just for MPs to take leap of faith in the citizens they represent.

"It will be interesting to note which politicians are prepared to trust the voters."

Lord Tyler said:

"This redraft of the Government's Bill could give effect to more than a decade of Labour manifesto commitments and Prime Ministerial statements. It is professionally drafted and could be debated in both Houses before the General Election if Gordon Brown wills it.

"As he prepares for his swansong in office, he has a choice. He can leave Britain with Conservative constitutional relics, or he can move the country on and leave a real legacy of democratic change."

ENDS

For further information, contact:
The Electoral Reform Society press office on 020 7928 1622 or 07968791684 or Dr Ken Ritchie on 07754 165551

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