Friday, August 10, 2012

Some people get it

I have, for a long time, pointed out that MPs should not be social workers for their constituents: there are 650 people in this country who can initiate law, and that is what those people should be doing.

I am glad that a couple of people—most notably Gawain Towler (UKIP press officer) and the ever amusing James Delingpole—agree with me in this podcast.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

But surely we want them to enact less new law! We know they rarely if ever remove any old ones...

Nigel Sedgwick said...

I hold that there are 3 main responsibilities of our elected representatives:

(i) To vote the budget and the taxes that fund it.

(ii) To pass laws, both criminal and civil, and similar legislation.

(iii) To hold the executive to account - on (i) and otherwise.

On (iii) it is very important that the executive (and their agents) are held to account on behalf of every individual citizen. The state is very powerful and individual citizens are not; thus individual citizens (each only very rarely - if ever) need additional help. And this help often needs to be different from a legal case against the government. It is also true that, quite often, the government has acted legally (and so no legal challenge would be successful); however the government actions are not desirable, either in the specific circumstances (eg disproportionate government action), or the law itself is wrong - and action by the wronged citizen's MP to change the law is appropriate (directly or through pressure on government).

None of this is 'social work'. It is desirable that this responsibility is retained.

I am thus surprised, given that the UK population is increasing, that the current Prime Minister (as parliamentarian) is personally very keen to reduce the number of MPs - leading to there being more constituency work for each one. But I am not surprised that the current Prime Minister (as head of the executive) wants to do reduce the number of MPs holding to account him and his for their actions.

The above is not changed by there being something of a case that MPs have been, at least partially, disempowered. And a large part of that problem is from general elections not being, primarily, for electing MPs (for purposes (i), (ii) and (iii) above): we vote ambiguously, but mainly to elect the Prime Minister.

Best regards

Anonymous said...

Welll said sir