David Cameron has produced a substantial reform agenda for Parliament. It appeared in The Guardian this morning and was delivered in a speech today at the Open University.
His recommendations cover three basic relationships: those of Government to Parliament, Parliament to the people, and the centre to the locality. There is a lot in his speech, both quantitatively and qualitatively. However, I thought I would pick up on one particular, but important, proposal in relation to the legislative process. It relates to what has been discussed previously on the blog.
I have, both here and in the House, drawn attention to the problems created by the way legislation is constructed and then processed. Various contributors to the blog have stressed the need to make Bills available in an open-source format. Here’s an extract from David Cameron’s speech:
“The way bills are published online today is stifling innovation and blocking democratic engagement. So a Conservative government will publish all Parliamentary information online in an open-source format.”
That’s just one of many proposals, but we should not under-estimate its importance. Much attention will be focused on the other proposals, such as reducing the size of the Commons, allowing Conservative MPs free votes in committee, and examining the arguments for fixed-term parliaments. The line I have quoted may not excite as much attention, but it is significant in strengthening the relationship between Parliament and citizen.
David Cameron has accepted an invitation from Jack Straw to enter into cross-party talks to see whether consensus can be reached on proposals to strengthen Parliament. This is one of the proposals that could be the subject of agreement and early action.