Monday, 25 May 2009

Letter published in The Times on need to reform Parliament

Sir, The calls for greater public involvement in the reform of Parliament should not end with proposals for citizens’ juries deciding on MPs’ expenses.

We often hear of the public disengagement with and suspicion of our political system. One way to counter this would be to install in Parliament a proportion of citizen MPs, randomly selected as with our jury system, who would serve for a year. They could perhaps comprise a third of all MPs and peers, thus placing a block on the power of parties to whip legislation through our supine legislature and forcing both Parliament and its masters to get better acquainted with one another.

Such a system might help to restore the sense, first developed in the Greek city-states, that citizenship bestows responsibilities over and above merely voting or paying taxes. It might also educate the public that legislating is not as easy as many believe.

Those who would dismiss this as impractical forget that democracy is what we make it, and as recent events have clearly shown, traditions themselves do not guarantee good governance.

John Slinger


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