Splitting the Bill: Lords to look again at big donors

Splitting the Bill: Lords to look again at big donors

The Trade Union Bill’s one-sided changes to party funding are finally getting some of the scrutiny they need. On Wednesday, the House of Lords struck a small blow by voting to set up a cross-party Select Committee to consider the Bill’s impact and what other reforms are needed to clean up party funding in the UK. 

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How can the Liverpool city region deal be democratically accountable?

How can the Liverpool city region deal be democratically accountable?

While cautiously welcoming the Liverpool City Region Devolution Agreement, Unlock Democracy Merseyside & West Cheshire agreed that the current arrangement should only be a precursor to a stronger devolution package provided that it moves towards more open and accountable strategic political leadership. It was a promising start but with regard to scrutiny there was still a long way to go. We strongly regret that there has been no public consultation nor consideration of alternative governance arrangements.

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Lords review is "blatant power grab"

Lords review is "blatant power grab"

Today the government published Lord Strathclyde’s review of the powers of the House of Lords, which recommends that the Lords’ power to reject secondary legislation be replaced with the power to send back secondary legislation once to the Commons for a vote, after which it would be passed automatically. This would significantly weaken the powers of the House of Lords in relation to secondary legislation, which typically receives little or no scrutiny in the House of Commons.

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Holyrood Exposed - new guide reveals the top lobbyists influencing the Scottish government

Holyrood Exposed - new guide reveals the top lobbyists influencing the Scottish government

Spinwatch, Unlock Democracy and Electoral Reform Society Scotland will launch Holyrood Exposed, a new guide to lobbying in Scotland, at the SNP conference in Aberdeen this Thursday. Holyrood Exposed profiles the top lobbyists influencing the Scottish government and shines the spotlight on the tactics they use to get their way.

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Big party donors 200 times more likely to get a peerage than ordinary party members

Big party donors 200 times more likely to get a peerage than ordinary party members

Using calculations based on research by economists at Oxford University, Unlock Democracy have estimated that big party donors are more than 200 times more likely to get a peerage than ordinary party members - and over 20,000 times more likely than your average voter. 

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One in five new MPs has second job

One in five new MPs has second job

Analysis of the new register of MPs’ financial interests by Unlock Democracy reveals that 1 in 5 new MPs already has a second job: 34 out of the 182 new MPs reported second jobs, while 80 of the 468 returning MPs reported second jobs. The total number of MPs with second jobs has increased slightly since the election, with 114 MPs reporting second jobs, up from 108 according to a BBC analysis conducted in February 2015. Of the 114 MPs who have second jobs, 84 are Conservative, 18 Labour, 11 SNP and one DUP.

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DEMOCRACY CAMPAIGNERS CALL FOR A CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION GOING BEYOND SCOT POWERS

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."

 

UNLOCK DEMOCRACY WELCOMES VOTER ENGAGEMENT REPORT

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.”

UNLOCK DEMOCRACY WELCOMES LABOUR PLANS FOR ELECTED SENATE

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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