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Tuesday, 10 November 2009

John Major on how to improve government

Some ideas:

a] Cutting the number of MPs to as few as 500 from today’s 646 (this goes much further than David Cameron’s proposal to cut to about 580 MPs)
Don't see the justification for this. I disagree with it, but it would be nice to have a debate based on a reason for doing it.

b] Not letting peer-ministers stay in the House of Lords if they turn out to be a bit useless. (Major singled just three of them for praise: Lord Darzai, Lord Davies and Lord Adonis - not Lord Myners, interestingly). But they could keep their title, he proposed.
If they're useless, get rid of them. No problem with that.

c] Letting Lords and MPs speak in both chambers. This could cut the cost of the ministerial payroll by up to a third, he argued.
Yes please. It's a big problem that Secretaries of state etc. are confined to one house, especially if their shadow is in the other e.g. Mandelson. I'd also like to see a far greater role for Select Committees as they tend to get more to the point rather than waffling on about how crap their opponent is.

d] Stop reshuffling so often. Under Major it became an almost annual event “like Christmas or Easter” which happened for the sake of it. Ministers would do a better job if they were allowed to stay in one department for longer.
Yes, too bloomin right. Maybe more power to the ministers to allow them to do jobs rather than policy being handed down from on high. Not sure how that would play in the current media age.

e] Major also made interesting points about who becomes an MP (not as many former businessmen, farmers or officer - and lots of career politicians).
Fair point.

f] He warned that after a certain period of time, the “gene pool” of talent diminishes because the talented ones have already been through the ministerial sausage machine. That certainly seems true of this government.
Fair. May relate to D

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