CLEANING UP POLITICS

We have a wide-ranging programme to improve the political system we inherited from Labour. We are bringing forward reforms which aim to restore people's faith in their politics and politicians. We want our political system to be more accountable and more transparent.

The bigger picture

• We are determined to cut the cost of politics, reduce the number of MPs and ensure votes have equal weight wherever they are cast in the country.

• We are making politicians more accountable by letting voters kick out MPs found guilty of serious wrongdoing and making all petitions with more than 100,000 signatories eligible for debate in Parliament.

• We are reducing the size of Whitehall and reforming the Civil Service to ensure more effective government.

Cutting the number of MPs and equal votes

Action to date

• We want to cut the cost of politics and make sure everyone’s vote is worth the same. That's why we have legislated to cut the number of MPs and to make sure constituencies have more equal electorates.

Planned actions

• We firmly believe the House of Commons should be smaller, it should be less expensive and it should have seats that are exactly the same size. That is what is in the Coalition Agreement. We will be putting that argument when the Boundary Commission reports in 2013 and we think everyone should come forward and vote for that proposal.

Making politicians more accountable to voters

Action to date

• We have published a draft bill to introduce a so-called 'power of recall', enabling voters to force a by-election in cases of serious wrongdoing.

• We have ensured that any petition that secures 100,000 signatures is eligible for formal debate in Parliament.

• We have established fixed-term five-year Parliaments.

Planned actions

• By the end of this parliament, we plan to give voters the power to force a by-election in cases of serious wrongdoing by MPs.

• The next election will be held on 7 May 2015.

Ensuring a fair deal for England in the post-devolution United Kingdom

Action to date

• We have established a commission chaired by Sir William McKay to consider the 'West Lothian question' – whereby, for example, Scottish MPs can still vote on matters which affect England only but English MPs cannot vote on matters which affect Scotland only.

• We have made a submission to the McKay Commission setting out our basic belief – just as legislation affecting issues such as the health service, education or policing can only be passed in Scotland or Northern Ireland with the consent of legislators representing those countries, so the same principle should apply to England.

Planned actions

• We will carefully consider the findings of the McKay Commission when it reports in this session of Parliament.

• We will press for reform which removes unfairness, promotes accountability, and strengthens the Union.

Reducing electoral fraud through Individual Electoral Registration

Action to date

• We are currently legislating for Individual Electoral Registration through the Electoral Registration and Administration Bill. This will mean that instead of one person registering everyone in their household, every individual will be responsible for registering themselves. This will reduce fraud and improve the accuracy of the register.

Planned actions

• The transition to Individual Electoral Registration (IER) will begin in 2014.

Cutting waste in Whitehall and reforming the civil service

Action to date

• We cut wasteful spending in Whitehall by £5.5 billion last year. This includes: cutting spending on consultants by £1 billion; saving £390 million by freezing all spending on marketing; and delivering £200 million of savings through using Government property more intelligently and exiting unnecessary properties.

• We have already reduced the size of the civil service to its smallest since the Second World War. Reductions in the size of the Civil Service through stronger controls on non-essential recruitment have contributed to £1.5 billion saving in salary costs.

• We have published a radical plan to reform the civil service.

• We are reforming Whitehall to import best practice from business, collecting consistent management information and building a stronger commercial centre right at the heart of government.

Planned actions

• We will establish the expectation that permanent secretaries appointed to the main delivery Departments will have had at least two years’ experience in a commercial or operational role.

• We are consulting the Civil Service Commission on how to strengthen the role of Secretaries of State in the recruitment process for permanent secretaries.

• We are examining how we can improve productivity across the public sector by looking at alternative forms of delivery, such as mutuals, cooperatives and partnerships with the private sector.

• We will sharpen the accountability of civil servants, so that people know who is responsible for delivering major government programmes.

• In future, performance management will be strengthened by a senior civil service appraisal system that identifies the top 25 per cent, as well as the bottom 10 per cent who will need to show real improvement if they are to remain in the service.

Helping disabled people into politics

Action to date

• We have launched a £2.6 million fund to help disabled people overcome barriers to becoming councillors, police and crime commissioners or MPs.

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