Responding to the recommendations of the Smith Commission that Scottish Parliament will be given new powers over income tax and welfare spending, Alexandra Runswick, Director of Unlock Democracy said:

“We welcome further devolved powers for Scotland, especially as the powers granted by the Smith Commission reflect what Scottish people have said they want. The referendum presented an opportunity for a citizen-led conversation about how where power should lie. There are many ideas about how power could be decentralised in the UK, but so far only Scotland has had the opportunity to have a say.
“The Smith Commission was a top-down process, only pertaining to one part of the UK. It has raised questions about decentralisation and power, and the public should be involved in determining these issues. These conversations are already going on in communities up and down the country. What we need now is a Constitutional Convention, bringing people and politicians together to agree how we should be governed. This would present a more democratic option than allowing politicians to make decisions behind closed doors: the people of the UK should be involved in deciding where power should lie."



The Political and Constitutional Reform Committee have today published a report on “Voter engagement in the UK”, which makes radical recommendations on how to boost turnout in elections. It proposes a wide range of solutions to tackle voter disengagement and the 7.5m voters who are missing from the electoral register, from reform of party finance to online voting and a public holiday on election day. Unlock Democracy gave evidence to the PCRC in January. [2]

Commenting on the publication of the report, Alexandra Runswick, Director of Unlock Democracy, said:

“This report will be invaluable in the fight against voter disengagement. It recognises that low turnout is fundamentally a political, not an administrative problem. It also proposes tough action to cut the numbers of potential voters who have dropped off the electoral register.
The report has many sensible ideas on how to reconnect politicians with the public. However, we cannot support all of its recommendations. The committee’s proposal to make voting a legal requirement just masks the problems of voter disillusionment. Papering over the cracks is not enough; we need fundamental reform.”


Commenting on Labour’s proposals for an elected Senate, Alexandra Runswick, Director of Unlock Democracy, said:

“We welcome Labour’s proposals for an elected Senate. The House of Lords is undemocratic, unaccountable and unrepresentative. We can no longer allow party political wrangling to delay its reform. As power is devolved further across the country, an elected upper chamber could play a vital role in articulating the interests of all UK citizens. A Senate elected to represent the regions would give a powerful new voice to those currently marginalised at Westminster.”

Lords Reform: New research reveals the price of patronage

Lords Reform: New research reveals the price of patronage

Unlock Democracy today publishes new research which reveals that dozens of members of the House of Lords claimed tens of thousands of pounds tax free in 2011 despite only voting on a handful of occasions. One peer, the Earl of Rosslyn, claimed over £15,000 despite not voting at all or sitting on any parliamentary committees

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