Cutting the number of MPs.

I voted to reduce the number of MPs by 50 when it last came up, and am willing to do so again when the boundary review is complete. I read that some Lib Dems are no longer happy about this Coalition policy.

I voted for it because I think public spending has to be reduced and it seemed like a good idea to start with a cut in Parliament, to show we can do more for less. We need to raise public sector produtivity across the board, so Parliament should show how.

The press comment these days makes out that the main purpose of the change is to help the Conservatives win the next election. This turns the argument into a grubby dispute between Lib/lab on the one hand, who resist boundary changes for ignoble motives because it makes their electoral task more difficult, and the Conservatives, who reckon it makes their task easier. On the merits of the case there is justice in moving to more equally sized constituencies, which does favour the Conservatives. On current boundaries it takes more Conservative votes than Labour votes to get an MP elected. All this gets lost when the public just think it is political parties “in it for themselves” squabbling over the issue.

It is wrong for Conservatives to argue the main reason for the change is the electoral impact. The main reason must be to get a better value Parliament as part of general public sector reform. It is also quite wrong for Conservatives to think the boundary changes will win them the election. The government needs to concentrate on solving the nation’s problems. To win the next election well the Conservatives need many more votes than last time, whatever the boundaries.

The best way to win the election is for Conservative policies to be applied to turn the economy round. The public are primarily worried about the cost of living, jobs and living standards. If the government shows good progress in improving the economy, and can say in 2015 they are well on the way to restoring good growth and prosperity, the Conservatives may well attract the extra votes they need. If the main problems of the nation are not being solved, no amount of boundary change will create a majority Conservative party in the Commons. The Prime Minister will also need to set out in that election how he intends to create a new relationship with the EU that frees us from the tentacles that bind us against our will and interests.

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152 Comments

  1. Posted July 12, 2012 at 5:41 am | Permalink

    Yes, I fear many MP’s almost always support any policy to increase the number of paid politicos (Welsh assembly, Scots parliament, regional assemblies, elected mayors, ‘cabinet’ systems in local councils, elected police commissioners etc) and none to reduce the number and withdraw public support.

    I cannot think of a single problem more politicians would solve?

    Anyone help me in this ignoble endeavour?

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted July 12, 2012 at 8:57 am | Permalink

      It rather depends on the quality of the politicians, as much as their quantity.

  2. norman
    Posted July 12, 2012 at 5:43 am | Permalink

    Kill two birds with one stone. Put George Osborne in charge of the anti-independence campaign in Scotland. Such an important issue will need his full attention, however.

    This will allow someone with some ideas (not even fresh ideas, just ideas would be an improvement) to step into the vacancy and knock 50 seats off Labour at the next election while at the same time bolstering the union vote as you can legitately say you put a big gun behind the campaign but the Eurozone crisis / too much rain / too much public holidays / too much sun (or whatever, who cares what the excuse is) lost the vote.

    • Mike Stallard
      Posted July 12, 2012 at 6:47 am | Permalink

      The best ideas (like this) never seem to happen.

  3. lifelogic
    Posted July 12, 2012 at 5:44 am | Permalink

    You say: “The Prime Minister will also need to set out in that election how he intends to create a new relationship with the EU that frees us from the tentacles that bind us against our will and interests.”

    The problem here is that what ever he set out no one will now ever believe him, on the EU or anything else. He has ditched his promises on the EU and wasted money on the PIGIS/IMF and clearly has no intention of any renegotiation on the EU. His heart is clearly not in it. He prefers fake equality and happiness indexes.

    “If the government shows good progress in improving the economy, and can say, in 2015, they are well on the way to restoring good growth and prosperity, the Conservatives may well attract the extra votes they need.”

    Well they have made no progress so far (indeed they are clearly going backwards) and under three years is not very long to turn the super tanker round. Especially as he has not as yet started turning the rudder.

    He says he want to be business friendly and wants growth. But all he does is kill it with more regulations, no functional banking, more taxes, silly fake green energy policies, carbon capture nonsense, more EU insanity, no retirement laws, gender neutral insurance drivel, taxes rates above even the levels that give maximum revenues.

    Above all he has given no uplifting vision of a small government, a low tax booming economy, no reason for business and investment to come to the UK just talk of “morally repugnant” tax avoidance and the like. What is actually morally repugnant is the tax borrow and tip down the drain of his government, the broken promises on IHT and the EU and the total lack of any uplifting vision from the leadership.

    He is, alas, a hopeless case just like Heath, Major, Blair & Brown government by and for the state sector killing the wealth producing sector in every way it can.

    • Kevin Ronald Lohse
      Posted July 12, 2012 at 7:04 am | Permalink

      Bravo.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted July 12, 2012 at 8:55 am | Permalink

      “He has ditched his promises on the EU and wasted money on the PIGIS/IMF and clearly has no intention of any renegotiation on the EU. His heart is clearly not in it.”

      I think that was clear long before the general election, to those who had the time and interest to carefully watch what he did.

      It started more or less straight after he’d been elected as leader – as I recall, ditching the plan to regain control of our fishing grounds was the first instance – and carried on through to his abject capitulation on the Lisbon Treaty, announced on November 4th 2009, soon followed by messages that repatriation of powers would be very difficult and would be a low priority.

      Since when, he’s become a fully signed up member of the Save the Euro campaign, and fully paid up as well, for as much as he can get away with at our expense.

      But the public is still being fed the story that the eurozone states will probably need EU treaty changes and that will be an opportunity to negotatiate other treaty changes which would be in our national interests, even though Cameron declined to make use of that opportunity when Merkel was demanding the radical EU treaty change which was formalised through European Council Decision 2011/199/EU of March 25th 2011; and the public is still being allowed to believe that any EU treaty change would be put a referendum, even though on October 13th 2011 Hague made first use of his “referendum lock” law to deny us a referendum on that Decision.

    • lifelogic
      Posted July 12, 2012 at 9:16 am | Permalink

      Yet another tax and moronic policy from the Coalition. Government plans for a ‘flood levy’, which could add up to 10% on home insurance bills from Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman. What a loon.

      If you choose to live in a cheap house on a flood plain why should you expect other to pay for it.

      Insurance is largely a mug game anyway. If you are honest (and not feckless) and take reasonable precautions you will probably pay far more, on average, than you are ever able to claim. Your money will go to criminals, the government in insurance taxes, the insurance overheads and profits, the negligent, the uninsured, and the feckless. Half your premium, at least, is then going down the drain. Best to self insure when ever possible it saves time too. Exceptions are perhaps where you might get ripped off by not insuring perhaps if you break down on a motorway or boiler breakdown or similar or you just know you are a much higher risk than average.

      • zorro
        Posted July 12, 2012 at 12:38 pm | Permalink

        Exactly what I was thinking…..

        Zorro

      • Chris
        Posted July 12, 2012 at 4:08 pm | Permalink

        It is the Councils permitting development on floodplains, and the greed of the developers, that are at fault. The excessive pressure for housing is due in large part to immigration, and the whole issue of water shortage is closely tied up with too much pressure on local resources/infrastructure. Granted the water companies lose large amounts through leakage, and are not investing enough in pipelines from water surplus to water deficit regions, but the bottom line is that there are too many people in particular areas for the local infrastructure to cope. Most people are sensible about their water usage, so rather than putting in hosepipe bans for weeks on end, far better to plan new housing development which is actually compatible with local resources/infrastructure (and which is not located on flood plains, unless adequate flood defences paid for by the developer

      • Bazman
        Posted July 12, 2012 at 5:35 pm | Permalink

        The only insurance you cannot do without is buildings insurance. Boiler insurance does not make sense. Save the premium every month and use it for repairs.

        • lifelogic
          Posted July 12, 2012 at 8:12 pm | Permalink

          If you can find an honest. reasonable and competent repair engineer in a hurry in the depths of winter I agree. Modern boilers forced, onto us by government break down very much more, cost a lot for parts and the drips from the condenser outlet freeze up, just when you need them most. All to save £50 in gas but far outweighed by the cost of the engineer and new boiler.

          House insurance and car insurance you are stuck with, if you have a mortgage/car, but you can take a large excess unless you think you are a higher than average risk. Saves filling in all those claim forms too. Car look more interesting with a few bashes anyway.

          • Bazman
            Posted July 14, 2012 at 9:01 am | Permalink

            The modern gas boiler even allowing for servicing costs and breakdowns is far cheaper to run than the 30 year old ones you so much love. If you think any different you are wrong or unlucky. The condensation outlet does in some cases freeze. The answer being to plumb it into a waste water pipe. Yes there would be one nearby. Think about it. The higher excess lets insurance companies off the hook and what claim forms?
            They are hardly ever used these days as fraud is to easy. Human and sometimes computer analysis of the voice is used. Even for fridge breakdowns.

      • lifelogic
        Posted July 12, 2012 at 6:57 pm | Permalink

        My goodness I nearly forgot the Lawyers.

        Even worse much of the insurance premium will end up with lawyers this is surely even worse than the criminals, the government (in insurance premium taxes), the insurance overheads and profits, the negligent, the uninsured, and the feckless.

    • Timaction
      Posted July 12, 2012 at 9:19 am | Permalink

      Loosing 50 MP’s was about the minimum he could have got away with. Most people would like about half the number of MP’s as it appears most just vote on what they are told too and implement laws instructed by our unelected Masters in the EU. Frankly Mr Cameron is no longer trusted out here in the real world. Today we hear William Hagues’ long grass announcement of an audit on the impact of the EU. For what?
      Here’s a few EU facts to pass on Mr Redwood:
      £10 billion annual net cost and rising for foreign infrastructure and farmers.
      £9 billion on our industries annually to impose their bureaucratic directives.
      Billions on our industry and personal energy bills for the wind/solar panels tax and EU 2020 targets on CO2.
      Millions (2.5 million EU plus 5 million non EU plus 2-3 million granted passports in the last 5 years) in Eastern European Immigration and £ billions on associated costs on our “International” Health Service.
      25% of our Education bill is for non British citizens.
      Millions of homes for the above plus associated infrastructure and public service costs.
      1000,000 young people unemployed whilst 1000,000 jobs went to foreign born workers in the last few years. There are 6.5 million people economically inactive people of working age in the UK.
      £50 billion trade deficit with the EU in 2010 and rising. £20 billion with Germany alone.
      400,000 fishing industry jobs lost from the EU fishing policy.
      Billions on our food costs due to the unreformed agricultural policy. This despite the fact that Mr Blair gave up billions in our rebate for nothing. Some argue it was a bribe as a potential bid to become the EU’s first President……………and on and on. There is a whole list of competencies our political leaders have stealthilly given away over the last 40 years.

      Reply: I agree – We know how much power they have and what we don’t like, so let’s get on with sorting it out.

      • Timaction
        Posted July 13, 2012 at 9:08 am | Permalink

        When? As nothing has changed after 2 years of Calmity Camerons Coalition. In fact he signed another Treaty last year without any repatriation of powers!! My guess is he’ll have his “Chamberlain” moment of a few scaps of repatriation whilst the juggernaut carries on headlong to the United States Of Europe. Trade, friendship, nothing more and seal our borders!!

        • zorro
          Posted July 13, 2012 at 2:03 pm | Permalink

          Cameron must be pushed. He looks weak. I think that he was spooked by the latest vote, and he doesn’t seem to have done anything about the dissenters. I doubt that he will…..Something must be done before 2014.

          zorro

          • APL
            Posted July 21, 2012 at 10:54 am | Permalink

            Zorro: ” ..Cameron must be pushed .. ”

            Hard over the nearest precipice.

            He will follow the time honored strategy of Conservative leaders since Chamberlin, appease appease appease, capitulate.

            We simply can’t trust the Tory party to look after any interests but its own.

    • Cliff. Wokingham
      Posted July 12, 2012 at 9:29 am | Permalink

      I think you are spot on Lifelogic; to get Conservative policies we would need a Conservative leader; that is not Mr Cameron.
      We are, to a degree, hamstrung by LibDems and their left leaning policies; I cannot understand why a true Conservative would have lept into bed with a left leaning political party in the first place but, hey ho.
      I would have prefered a minority Conservative government followed by an early electio0n and a Conservative win. I still feel Messers Clegg and Cameron will be liabilities to their party’s chances at the next election.

      Boundaries are all too often changed and many people do see it as an exercise by politicians to manipulate their own chances of winning an election.

      John, Regarding Mr Blair’s appointment by Labour as an advisor; will the post be funded by the Labour Party out of their own funds or will his post be funded by the taxpayer?

      Reply: I would hope Mr Blair will give free advice to his party, as I do to mine!

      • lifelogic
        Posted July 12, 2012 at 12:57 pm | Permalink

        To reply:- A shame they never seem to act upon it.

    • Alte Fritz
      Posted July 12, 2012 at 9:46 am | Permalink

      The case for equality between constituencies ought to be self evident.

      It is true that the case for a small state has not been argued. Each and every day one sees evidence of the failure of the big state, failure to fulfill its purpose, and failure to use resources well. One meets many people who dread to go to hospital not because “cuts” damage services but because the prevailing ethos puts the poor patient at the end of the queue for consideration.

      Much as the banking sector needs reform, we are, as a country, obsessing on that rather than the need to have a healthy economy for its own sake, not just to be miked by government.

      • Denis Cooper
        Posted July 12, 2012 at 11:59 am | Permalink

        Interestingly the case for equally sized constituencies was not self-evident at the time of the Great Reform Act, when the main concern for reformers was that new and substantial communities which had come into existence should be represented in Parliament, while communities which had largely or even completely ceased to exist should no longer have representatives effectively appointed through patronage.

        http://www.historyandpolicy.org/papers/policy-paper-117.html

        “The 2011 Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Act is only superficially similar to the 1832 Reform Act. The present government’s commitment to equal-sized constituencies would, in fact, have been an anathema to Whigs and Tories alike in 1832.”

        “The main purpose of the 1832 Reform Act was to make parliamentary representation more equal by transferring seats from less densely inhabited places (‘rotten boroughs’) to fast-growing industrial towns and counties. Reformers objected to rotten boroughs because the MPs who sat for them were accountable to the borough patron, rather than the electorate. This system helped to perpetuate the influence of the executive, at the expense of the legislature.”

        • Mark
          Posted July 12, 2012 at 10:38 pm | Permalink

          Too many of today’s MPs are accountable to their party patron and not the electorate or their own conscience.

      • lifelogic
        Posted July 12, 2012 at 8:18 pm | Permalink

        The cases for a smaller state, less or no EU, cheaper non green energy and global warming being a huge exaggeration, lower taxes, less employment laws and fewer regulations have all not been argued – the BBC virtually prevents such debate or frames it absurdly.

        All are better for the majority in practice.

    • Michael Lee
      Posted July 12, 2012 at 7:15 pm | Permalink

      The criticism of the prime minister goes to the heart of the problem. I don’t believe David Cameron has any intention of renegotiating Britain’s membership of the EU nor ever allowing a referendum on this matter. He shouldn’t be a member of the Conservative Party, let alone leading it. A new leader is required. Any suggestions?

      • lifelogic
        Posted July 12, 2012 at 8:19 pm | Permalink

        The time is not right it will be perhaps when he is in opposition.

  4. Alan Duckworth
    Posted July 12, 2012 at 5:49 am | Permalink

    Fine words and very true but if you really want to make Parliament more cost effective you could start by mounting a campaign to remove the subsides that MPs enjoy on their food and drink in the bars and restaurants at Westminster. This would not only save the taxpayer a significant amount of money but gain the Tories much needed Brownie points with the electorate. Remember, we’re all in this together, allegedly !

    • lifelogic
      Posted July 12, 2012 at 6:30 am | Permalink

      And get rid of the tax free pay offs for failed ministers who resign for personal reasons and for MPs voted out and the hugely over generous MP’s pensions which, almost double their effective salaries. These are all paid for by people, who often have no pensions at all other – than the state pension.

      High pay weakens democracy, as the MP just want a career and not to represent the voters so do as told by party. Hence the special low taxes on high the EU/MEP pay. All designed to buy people and subvert democracy and how cheaply they are bought!

    • lifelogic
      Posted July 12, 2012 at 2:10 pm | Permalink

      Osborne did remove the 15p per day tax benefit ordinary people got on lunch vouchers but said nothing about the circa £100 per person per day subsidy to the HoC restaurant for some reason. Still we are all in it together.

      • zorro
        Posted July 13, 2012 at 2:04 pm | Permalink

        Pretty typical behaviou though, isn’t it?

        zorro

  5. Leslie Singleton
    Posted July 12, 2012 at 5:51 am | Permalink

    A trifle sanctimonious for my taste. On boundaries, all that should be sought is that they be fair which they are not at present. If this means 20 extra seats for the Conservatives that could easily be decisive. As you say though, on present milksop leadership there is little hope and waiting till the election won’t come close. We should throw back the EU in to the sea now. As to number of MP’s, I no longer trust the Conservatives so reduction in numbers is probably a mistake or at least much-a-do about nothing.

  6. John C
    Posted July 12, 2012 at 5:56 am | Permalink

    As always a well thought out and balanced article.

    It annoys me when, on the TV, political journalists point out that the boundary changes will benefit the Tories to the tune of about 20 seats, implying that the Tories are only doing it for petty party political motives.

    Does it never occur to them to say that the current boundaries benefit Labour due to the number of small constituencies they hold in inner cities? That is, there is currently a bias in Labour’s favour. This is rarely mentioned and shows that the current boundaries are unfair.

    Regardless of how the economy does, Cameron will have to show action rather than “set out in that election how he intends to create a new relationship with the EU”.

    Yet more talk won’t go down well. The absolute minimum is to identify exactly which areas are to be renegotiated and an outline of the structure of the new relationship. Actual start of negotiations would be a good sign too.

    • Tad Davison
      Posted July 12, 2012 at 8:43 am | Permalink

      John,

      Good post, with MPs from Scottish constituencies presently sitting at Westminster, there’s already an advantage for Labour. With a wholly English assembly, there would be a sizable Tory majority.

      Given the present complexion of the Tory party, I’m not sure if that would necessarily a good thing. If I were Cameron, I would set out to the people right now, the policies a future Conservative government would put forward, and make it clear that it cannot presently implement them because of the association with the Lib Dems.

      That would promote clear blue policies, whilst simultaneously showing the Lib Dems up for the looney, pro-EU nutters they are, and consigning them to oblivion after 2015. So what’s stopping him?

      Cameron must know how thoroughly dissatisfied people are with his pro-EU position, and that it makes no sense to keep throwing our badly needed money at such an unworkable nomsense Any right-minded person would want to get us out of the madness just as soon as it was humanly possible. And once we were out, we might just need those MPs to do the work all those repatriated powers would bring back to Westminster.

      People have seen through Cameron. His heart isn’t in it. He’s just another Major, and even now, some fifteen years after getting booted out in such a spectacular way, people still hold that man in contempt. Cameron will suffer the same fate unless he gets his finger out.

      Tad

    • Cliff. Wokingham
      Posted July 12, 2012 at 9:39 am | Permalink

      I agree.
      The starting point for any negotiations regarding our relationship with Europe, must be a return to what we voted on in the early 1970s, namely a free trade agreement. We must put an end to the march towards a federal Europe and return to free and self determining independent countries. We have never been asked whether we want to be part of a twenty-first century soviet union because the political elite know what answer they would get.

      • uanime5
        Posted July 12, 2012 at 5:08 pm | Permalink

        A federal Europe will occur with or without the UK because its what the other member of the EU want. It’s no longer possible for the UK to return to the 1970s so the only choices are be part of the EU, or leave the EU and become a minor player in the world economy.

        • Leslie Singleton
          Posted July 12, 2012 at 8:36 pm | Permalink

          In answer to unanime5 even if it is true that we would be a minor economy (how minor is minor?) what makes him think our economy, as against the EU’s which so many of us see as a drag on our economy, would be any larger in the EU? This is simply more begging the question.

          • Cliff. Wokingham.
            Posted July 13, 2012 at 9:33 am | Permalink

            Leslie:

            I agree. I would rather be a minor player on the world’s stage with control over our economy and country, than part of a Twenty-first century Soviet Union.
            We could then restart manufacturing and producing things ourselves, we would save a fortune in membership fees which could be invested in our own country, we could secure our own borders and put our own people into work. Would it be tough to start off with?….Perhaps but, a couple of years of pain would be better than a pain forever as part of the European super state.

            I like to read Unanime5’s ramblings; they always make me laugh. When I watched Mr Clegg on Monday trying to make the case for Lord’s reform completely at odds with everyone else in the Commons but adopting that rather arrogant, I know best, stance he does, I couldn’t help but think of Unanime5 on here. Sadly though, Mr Clegg has real influence and power whereas fortunately, Unanime5 has none…..Unless Mr Clegg posts on here as Uanime5…..Now there’s a thought:-)

          • uanime5
            Posted July 13, 2012 at 5:27 pm | Permalink

            How minor the UK will be is dependant on how much the major Asian and South American countries are able to develop. The more they develop relative to the UK the more minor the UK will become.

            The UK will be worse off outside the EU because the EU has a greater bargaining power and can more easily open up the markets in China, India, and Russia than the UK could by itself.

          • uanime5
            Posted July 13, 2012 at 5:33 pm | Permalink

            In response to Cliff. Wokingham.

            The UK isn’t manufacturing because the UK politicians decided to destroy our manufacturing industries, sell all the companies to foreign countries, and solely focus on the City. Leaving the EU will not change this.

            Cliff just because you don’t like what I or Nick Clegg are saying doesn’t make it wrong. I noticed that you’ve never been able to rebut either my or Cleggs argument and instead resort to ad hominem attacks. Shall I assume that you don’t have a real argument.

        • Mark
          Posted July 12, 2012 at 10:34 pm | Permalink

          Correction: it’s what EU leaders know they have to achieve if the EU is to continue, as JR has often explained here. Even then, the EU will go backwards economically. We have a chance to escape that and become a flourishing economy again.

          • uanime5
            Posted July 13, 2012 at 5:38 pm | Permalink

            All the evidence shows that the EU isn’t going backwards and that the UK will be worse outside the EU than within it.

            The problems that the UK faces mainly originated in the UK, not the EU, so leaving the EU won’t fix them and may even make them worse.

        • zorro
          Posted July 13, 2012 at 2:06 pm | Permalink

          uanime5, you limit your choices and lack vision. There are plenty of options for the UK to consider.

          zorro

          • uanime5
            Posted July 13, 2012 at 5:36 pm | Permalink

            There are many options but very few are viable. As the UK is not in a position to force what we want on other countries we either work with them or try to work without them.

  7. zorro
    Posted July 12, 2012 at 5:58 am | Permalink

    Yes I agree, it is rather negative tactics to hope that a ‘tactical’ change in the number of seats will somehow give advantage to the Tories. Cameron is living in fantasy land if he thinks that on current performance such a tactic will save him.

    As you said, people will vote if they can see a clear direction towards improving living standards, the economy, and getting a grip on immigration so that they can see that there is a chance of a sustainable future for them and their families, instead of continually increasing public expenditure and uncontrolled population growth.

    Unfortunately, under Cameron there is no such direction – just occasional words, mood music but precious little action. Instead any action tends to go off in the wrong direction, or he is very quick to assuage Lib Dem sensitivities. Can he not see what will happen to the Lib Dems at the next election?

    zorro

    • zorro
      Posted July 12, 2012 at 6:00 am | Permalink

      And of course 2/5ths of sweet FA on the EU with regards to reform…..

      zorro

    • lifelogic
      Posted July 12, 2012 at 9:23 am | Permalink

      Indeed he need to make the highly moral case and uplifting vision of:-

      Less government, low tax rates, cheap energy, fewer/better regulations, efficient state sector and people getting of their backsides and providing for themselves.

      Not going on about being “morally repugnant” happiness drivel, equality tosh and continuing with tax, borrow and piss down the drain. It is his views and actions that are actually “morally repugnant”.
      Now the moronic flood plain tax too I see.

      • lifelogic
        Posted July 12, 2012 at 6:51 pm | Permalink

        On the moronic “flood plain tax” there can be few things more damaging than distorting the market to encourage people to do daft things like throw good fish back, agricultural distortions, wind far subsidies, build access ramps on houses that will never need them and subsidising people to live in flood planes.

        • zorro
          Posted July 13, 2012 at 2:09 pm | Permalink

          It is but another testimony to their complete unsuitability for the job at hand. How anyone can have the slightest hope that this crew can turn the ship round never ceases to amaze me. My advice – do not trust this crew to do anything right. Do not rely onthem in any way, do not give them succour, and look after yourself.

          zorro

  8. Boudicca
    Posted July 12, 2012 at 6:21 am | Permalink

    One of the disgraceful aspects of Clegg’s proposals for ‘reform’ of the Lords – and there were many – was that NO savings were to come from the reduction in the number of members. We were to end up with a Chamber with roughly half the number of members, but each receiving a generous salary and overall costs would have remained more or less the same.

    ANY reformation of the Lords must result in substantial cost savings. Why change a functioning but expensive Chamber, for another one which may not serve the purpose as well and which will cost just as much.

    As for the Boundary Review – of course equalling-out the size of Constituencies should be the priority. The Boundary Commission should be required to do that every 5 years by moving Constituency boundaries where necessary. But again, a reduction in 50 MPs is insufficient. We are massively overgoverned in this country – with MEPs, MPs, members of the devolved parliaments, county councillors and local councillors.

    The number of MPs in Westminster should have been reduced when the devolved parliaments were created. 400 should be sufficient.

    • Lord Blagger
      Posted July 12, 2012 at 8:50 am | Permalink

      Why 400? Why not 100?

      The UK is a mature country. There is no need for vast amounts of new laws. They have 300 years to get it right.

      New legislation either means they are incompetent at passing laws, or they are creating laws for the sake of it, to try and justify their exhorbitant wages and perks.

      Why isn’t Vince Cable demanding that shareholders (constituents) have a say in MPs wages?

      • Dan H.
        Posted July 13, 2012 at 10:19 am | Permalink

        I agree.

        As things stand, we are hugely, vastly, incredibly over-governed. England alone has MEPs, MPs, local councillors and even parish councillors all purporting to rule the same areas, and in the regions we also have MSPs and so on to add to the mix.

        We don’t need all these chiefs.

        Firstly, assuming we stay in the EU, separately electing MEPs and MPs is a waste of time; let some MPs double up as MEPs on their MP salary.

        Secondly, regional parliaments are a waste of resources too. Let us set up an English Parliament to go with the Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish ones and elect MPs only to each of these; link the four regional parliaments by videolink when you want an all-UK debate. Any elected representative who doesn’t want to join in should be treated as having refused their job, and a by-election called in their constituency with that person barred from standing (words left out-ed).

        Thirdly, reduce the numbers of MPs and set boundaries entirely on population levels. If this ends up with the Scottish parliament being a cozy fireside chat between a dozen people, then so be it.

        Fourthly, devolve power and taxation-setting abilities down the scale from Central Government level to local government. Devolve payment of benefits of various sorts down to this level too; this will allow three very important things to happen. The first important thing is that tax rate competition inside the UK will be set up, and will drive rates down. The second thing is that where hard-Left and similar regimes get elected, tax rates will be permitted to be set stupidly high, which will blight local economies as businesses leave and scroungers flock in; this will permit people to see that votes do matter and electing idiots is not a good idea. Finally, locally-wielded power will be strictly local in scope, so much more flexible.

        Finally, let’s have a straight IN/OUT referendum on the EU membership. We don’t need to opt for the Norvegian model; the Swiss one complete with legal and financial regime tailored to attract big business (so we can take a small tax off a huge amount of turnover) will do nicely.

  9. Pete the Bike
    Posted July 12, 2012 at 6:23 am | Permalink

    The main advantage of having 50 less MPs is that you’d have 50 less MPs that could legislate, interfere. spend and generally make our lives worse. If a reform of the Lords is needed turn it into a law repealing chamber where all existing laws are reviewed every five years and dispensed with if they do not work or are obsolete.

    • Kevin Ronald Lohse
      Posted July 12, 2012 at 7:08 am | Permalink

      Review all existing laws? You’d need a chamber 5 times the size!

    • Publius
      Posted July 12, 2012 at 10:20 am | Permalink

      “The main advantage of having 50 less [sic] MPs”

      Note however that fewer MPs means more MPs are on the “payroll vote” and thus the independence of parliament is diminished further. Unless the payroll vote numbers are proportionately reduced.

      • Little White Squibba
        Posted July 12, 2012 at 11:09 am | Permalink

        The payroll vote. Publius is dead right. Without at least a corresponding reduction in the pv we shall be even worse off with fewer MPs.

  10. NickW
    Posted July 12, 2012 at 6:50 am | Permalink

    Having broken a “Cast Iron” promise on an EU referendum, Mr Cameron’s biggest problem in 2015 is one of trust.

    The electorate will not believe anything he says on Europe.

    In order to win the election in 2015; that problem has to be successfully addressed.

    Clegg is in an even worse position on trust, but Miliband is starting from a much better position, which will have to be addressed in the election campaign.

    • lifelogic
      Posted July 12, 2012 at 9:28 am | Permalink

      Indeed.

      “Mr Cameron’s biggest problem in 2015 is one of trust.
      The electorate will not believe anything he says on Europe. In order to win the election in 2015; that problem has to be successfully addressed.”

      What do you suggest to address it? Resignation, eviction or (what? ed)? I cannot see any other real options. He could not beat Brown with his silly agenda even without most of this problem being apparent.

      • zorro
        Posted July 13, 2012 at 2:11 pm | Permalink

        People in positions of influence need to act to do what is best for the country…..

        zorro

    • Mark
      Posted July 12, 2012 at 11:02 am | Permalink

      I think if people realised what Ed Miliband was directly responsible for during his time in government (particularly when he was Energy Secretary) they might not trust him very much.

      • lifelogic
        Posted July 12, 2012 at 8:24 pm | Permalink

        I do not trust him (the Unison mouth piece) an inch but he is more opposition than Brown. Cameron has now also lost all trust and failed to even to start to sort the banks or the economy.

        He is dead in the water.

        • zorro
          Posted July 13, 2012 at 2:15 pm | Permalink

          Let’s face it, he was unable to beat Gordon ‘Jonah’ Brown in 2010 – that says it all….He goes on about ‘heir to Blair’, he is more ‘heir to Brown’……he even seems to have acquired Brown’s ‘Jonah’ like ability when supporting UK teams/individuals!……He didn’t seem to make much of the England cricket team’s achievements (yes, they won something)….I am always a tad suspicious of people who don’t have much of an interest in cricket.

          zorro

  11. Mike Stallard
    Posted July 12, 2012 at 6:53 am | Permalink

    Why have Mr Cameron and Mr Osborne changed so much? They used to be really pretty impressive. It is the appalling mess of the Civil Service? I notice that poor old Teresa May is obviously struggling with her unwieldy and obviously totally not fit for service Border operation. Mr Gove, likewise. The Great Scotsman radically changed the Treasury too. And the taxation system seems from here to be in total disarray.

    • zorro
      Posted July 12, 2012 at 7:14 am | Permalink

      Who is responsible for there being enough officers at the Border? Who was responsible for getting rid of hundreds of experienced border personnel before the Olympics? Who was responsible for paying them up to two years salary on leaving? Who is responsible for not managing natural wastage which would have been cheaper in the long run? Who is responsible for reemploying some of those released on expensive terms to try and deal with the situation now?…….Was it the tooth fairy?

      Zorro

      • lifelogic
        Posted July 12, 2012 at 10:53 am | Permalink

        Must indeed have been the tooth fairy.

        The first thing they should have done is get rid of any pay offs over say 3 months pay in all employment areas. If they are employable they can get another job anyway. It might encourage the rest to work occasionally too.

    • alan jutson
      Posted July 12, 2012 at 7:25 am | Permalink

      Agreed Mike, but it is easy to be impressive when not in power, when you do not have to produce results.

      So much to do so, such little time left.

      I see from the press reports this morning that Mr Miliband has managed to get Mr Blair on side, to advise on Labours policy strategy for the next election.
      Say what you like about Blair, but rest assured their policy will be slick on presentation.
      Cameron and Osbourne should be worried, really worried.

      The only hope the Conservatives have now is to produce results, and actually get us moving in the right direction if they want a second term.

      • Mark
        Posted July 12, 2012 at 11:09 am | Permalink

        I think that should read the other way around….Mr Blair has managed to get Mr Miliband onside. Blair has been talking openly of his desire for another period in office. Don’t be surprised if he makes a comeback, so whether that would split the Labour party is a nice question. There are elements in the party that wish to push out the Blairite wing altogether. You might see them allying with the rump of Lib Dems to create a new SDP centre left party, while the Marxist wing trudges off on Ffoot.

        • NickW
          Posted July 12, 2012 at 8:49 pm | Permalink

          I hope we will see some opinion polls to show just how popular Blair would be if he attempted to become PM again.

          It’s hard to think why he would want another go as PM; it’s impossible to think of any aspect of this country which he hasn’t already wrecked.

          Maybe he’s thinking that he could do a much better job without his life long friend Brown stabbing him in the back all the time.

          It’s only a matter of time before he declares himself “The heir to Cameron”.

          • zorro
            Posted July 13, 2012 at 2:18 pm | Permalink

            I can only suspect that certain people think that the UK might be wavering on the EU. He would only get back in to cement us further into the EU.

            zorro

    • Alan
      Posted July 12, 2012 at 7:52 am | Permalink

      I think you over-praise Mr Cameron and Mr Osborne. They seem to me to be men who would be entirely adequate for running the country if things were going well, but not to have the skills for coping in a crisis. The present policy of cutting back on public spending and waiting for the Eurozone to solve its problems lacks imagination. But managing the current crisis is not easy, so maybe we should not expect too much. Keep calm and carry on.

      As for the Civil Service, I thought it was the glue that was holding things together. Just imagine how it would be if every part of it was running the way the central government is being run.

      Mrs May and Mr Gove are finding out in practice what I suspect they already knew in theory – that running big organisations, especially if you want to change them, is not easy.

      And the taxation system – it never has been anything other than ridiculously over-complex, and I suspect it never will be. Too many special interests have to be catered for.

  12. zorro
    Posted July 12, 2012 at 7:03 am | Permalink

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/law-and-order/9392691/Human-right-to-benefits-could-be-included-in-law-reform.html

    Here are some of the things being thought up in the British Bill of Right, just in case anyone was under the illusion that they intended to cut back on the scope for ridiculous judgements…hahaha utter madness.

    Zorro

    • lifelogic
      Posted July 12, 2012 at 8:27 pm | Permalink

      Insanity heaped on insanity. Let all the world be lawyers or work for the state.

  13. Robert K
    Posted July 12, 2012 at 7:04 am | Permalink

    Reducing the number of MPs makes sense, but increasing their independence is more important. Having blogged on this site for a number of years now, it is clear to me that JR has been exiled to the back benches for clear and consistent views on issues that often challenge government thinking. Whether you have 400, 600 or 800 MPs makes little difference (aside from the cost issue) if a typical backbencher is simply cannon fodder for the whips.
    If you are looking for serious constitutional reform, how about looking to the US, but develop a better arrangement? The key there is having an elected executive that is separate from parliament (i.e. Congress).
    Applying that to the UK, one could imagine an elected cabinet of say 20 from which a prime minister could be chosen (either by the Cabinet or directly by the electorate). The cabinet, as now, would have departmental responsibilities and would initate legislation. A separate chamber – the Commons – would be responsible for debating, modifying or rejecting the legislation. A House of Lords could easily fit in this system, as now, as an amending chamber.
    I reckon that the key to making Parliament more accountable in this setup would be to ban party membership outside of the Cabinet. MPs should be elected to represent the views of the local people who elected them, not to toe the line of the party bosses. Banning political parties in Parliament would also reduce the tribalism that plagues the US parliament. If we are interested in smaller government and greater localism, this might be a solution.

  14. Old Albion
    Posted July 12, 2012 at 7:04 am | Permalink

    Should the number of MP’s in The House of Commons be cut?
    Yes, the first task is to remove all Scottish, Welsh and N. Irish constituency MP’s, They all have a devolved body controlloing the affairs of their country.
    They must spend their days at Westminster , bored rigid. For apart from interfering in English affairs, they have little to do.
    Then English constituencies should be reduced to 400.
    There you have it 250 less MP’s and their expense accounts. At the same time an English Parliament is created, bringing equality, fairness and Democracy back to England.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted July 13, 2012 at 8:04 am | Permalink

      You should check the list of “reserved matters” which are still decided by the UK Parliament, not any of the devolved assemblies. Of course MPs from Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland should not be allowed to vote when the subject matter is something which has been devolved to all parts of the country except England, but on reserved matters a UK citizen in any part of the country should have an equal say, or as close to equal as may be sensibly arranged, which basically means that the electoral quota for Westminster constituencies should be the same across the UK. It is now the same for Scotland and England, but not yet for Wales as I understand.

  15. Alan
    Posted July 12, 2012 at 7:38 am | Permalink

    Conservatives’ interest in democracy seems very selective to me. Equal size constituencies should result in more Conservative MPs, so the Party supports that. AV would have given a House of Commons that was more representative of the breadth of opinion in the country but would have resulted in less Conservative MPs and more probability of having to form coalitions, and the Party opposed that. An elected, or abolished, House of Lords would decrease the power of patronage and the Party won’t take the time to enact that.

    The theme that seems to me to run through this is not a desire for democracy; it is a desire to exploit opportunities to increase the number of Conservative MPs and to increase or maintain the ability to induce them to follow the Party line.

    I’m a bit disappointed.

    • Mark
      Posted July 12, 2012 at 12:22 pm | Permalink

      If you’ve forty minutes to spare, try this:

      http://www7.politicalbetting.com/index.php/archives/2012/07/07/will-the-new-boundaries-really-make-that-much-difference/

      While Labour has some “pocket boroughs” – seats with small electorates that are predominantly Labour voting – increasing the average size of these to normal will not cost them many seats. Seats that are solidly Conservative tend not to have greatly oversize electorates. Labour’s real advantage comes from having a significant number of seats where they are winners by less than landslide margins.

      You can get a quick impression by going to the right hand side of this table:

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Results_of_the_2010_United_Kingdom_general_election_by_parliamentary_constituency

      and clicking on the Winner % column to sort by that, and paging through the results of the winning party shown in the final column colour coded. You can also sort by the size of electorate, which shows a clear block of Labour wins in the smaller constituencies after the special case Scottish seats. If you have a spreadsheet package, you can create a scatter plot of electorate size against winning vote % colour coded for each winning party that shows the bias effect quite well. You could also verify that the average size of the electorate for constituencies won by Conservatives was 72,374, versus 68,551 for Labour.

      It is however true that the boundary reviews in the Labour years have given an advantage that arises purely because of the pocket borough phenomenon, but correcting this (which the proposed changes address) will not eliminate the advantage Labour enjoy in terms of the lower share of the national vote they would need to form a government.

  16. Roy Grainger
    Posted July 12, 2012 at 7:43 am | Permalink

    The Conservative government’s only viable strategy for the next election, at which they have no chance of gaining an overall majority, is to ensure that changes they make now cannot easily be undone by Labour or Lib/Lab who will be in power next. In the area of schools and benefits I think they have already done that because (secretly) Labour support the policies, one could imagine that on cutting the public sector and the EU they could also do Labour’s work for them (but not, of course, on the NHS). Then they have to hope (with some justification) that Labour will screw-up royally on the economy with the IMF visiting to bail us out after which the Conservatives, with a new leader in place, will sweep back to power.

  17. Electro-Kevin
    Posted July 12, 2012 at 7:47 am | Permalink

    A brave thing to say, Mr Redwood.

    I’d gladly go for a doubling of MPs numbers if we could wrest self-determination back from Brussels and our Parliament could operate autonomously once more.

  18. A.Sedgwick
    Posted July 12, 2012 at 7:55 am | Permalink

    Yet another “deckchair” preoccupation of a Government and most MPs that are wilfully blind to real issues e.g. Simon Heffer today’s DM.

    • Leslie Singleton
      Posted July 12, 2012 at 11:16 am | Permalink

      Except, Mr Sedgwick, that Mr Heffer is totally wrong on his subject today. The important point is that the elderly should be able to see themselves out in their own house and ‘Pay as you die’ (albeit better term needed) allows them to do that. If their family cannot support them (so that no need to sell house) as I believe they should, I see them, the family, as having a very secondary claim to the assets. I could hardly believe a woman on TV a couple of days ago complaining about how she would lose her mother’s house when her mother died. Why the taxpayer should pay for this daughter to keep the house I have no idea. And we wonder why we run out of money! Of course what with everything from lack of fathers to gay relationships these days the very word family is increasingly being stripped of meaning.

  19. stred
    Posted July 12, 2012 at 7:57 am | Permalink

    If the Lib Dems stop the boundary reorganization and allow Labour to maintain their inner city advantage, deliberately bolstered by mass immigration, they will not be forgiven by the voters in the areas where their electorate live.

  20. Denis Cooper
    Posted July 12, 2012 at 8:02 am | Permalink

    On the main topic, I’ve never agreed with the Tory plan to arbitrarily cut the number of MPs.

    Cameron presented this as “cutting the cost of politics”, part of his response to the expenses scandal; but if you want to cut the cost of MPs by 8% then there are much simpler, more direct and more immediate ways to do that without also punishing the electorate by cutting their democratic representation.

    I’m not wedded to 650 as the ideal number of MPs, but I don’t agree with just chopping it down to 600 let alone 400 or even fewer as some suggest, and we all know that in any case the motivations for doing so have nothing to do with costs but are instead:

    1. To help Cameron control Tory MPs through the threat that troublemakers might find themselves among those without winnable constituencies at the next general election – although that doesn’t seem to have worked out very well!

    2. To replace a small pro-Labour bias in the electoral system with a similar or rather larger pro-Tory bias.

    On 2, looking at the results of the last general election the overall effect of the present pro-Labour bias has been greatly exaggerated, amounting to the Tories being short of maybe 6 seats which they should have won if there’d been strict proportionality between the numbers of votes cast for each of the two parties and the numbers of MPs that were elected.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/shared/election2010/results/default.stm

    Total votes cast for each party’s candidates, divided by the number of Commons seats won by that party:

    Tory 10,726,614 divided by 307 = 34,940
    Labour 8,609,527 divided by 258 = 33,370
    LibDem 6,836,824 divided by 57 = 119,944

    The most obvious imbalance is between the LibDems and the two larger parties, but as far as the Tories being disadvantaged vis-a-vis Labour overall the effect is small.

    Transfer just 6 seats from Labour to the Tories, and their respective positions would have been:

    Tory 10,726,614 divided by 313 = 34,270
    Labour 8,609,527 divided by 252 = 34,165

    But I’ve seen a CCHQ estimate that the proposed boundary changes could give the Tories up to 20 more seats, far in excess of the 6 required to correct the present small pro-Labour bias.

    • sjb
      Posted July 14, 2012 at 8:59 pm | Permalink

      Denis, the most obvious imbalance is surely that UKIP polled 919,546 votes but was not given even a single seat in the HoC.

  21. wab
    Posted July 12, 2012 at 8:08 am | Permalink

    “On the merits of the case there is justice in moving to more equally sized constituencies.”

    You conveniently forgot to mention what “equally sized” means. The Tories want to base it on the number of registered electors not on the number of people (or adults). That is the fundamental problem with the proposal, which you blithely ignore. And it means that the voting system will be biased towards old/rich people, i.e. towards Tories (who are more likely to register). So there is no “justice” in this proposal, no matter how many times the Tories repeat this (and it’s hard to believe that anyone does so with a straight face).

    Reply: Registering to vote is income blind. All are free to register, and we have to work from the register of those who do.

    • Mark
      Posted July 12, 2012 at 12:32 pm | Permalink

      If there are problems with voter registration, they seem to be rather more in terms of people being registered who are phantoms or who are not qualified to vote by virtue of citizenship, yet who manage to get postal votes. Electoral fraud is an increasing problem, made worse by the unwillingness of local authorities to investigate it.

      We do not have the right to vote in other countries’ national elections if we go and live abroad. Foreigners should likewise have no right to vote here: they are our guests and no more.

      • Lindsay McDougall
        Posted July 13, 2012 at 5:20 pm | Permalink

        We have the right to vote in Irish elections and they have a right to vote in ours. This may well have had the effect of boosting the Republican vote in Northern Irish elections and that may have been the intent of certain anti-Unionist English politicians. Perhaps this special concession should be ended.

  22. Martin C
    Posted July 12, 2012 at 8:16 am | Permalink

    Moving to more equally-sized constituencies does not “favour the Conservatives”. It merely favours the Labour party less that at present. It will still require more votes to elect a Conservative MP than a Labour one, even after the changes.
    Point well made about the justification for the exercise being to reduce the overall size of parliament and cut the number of officials living off the public weal. This point needs to be made repeatedly, and attempts by the media to present the debate as an inter-party squabble for electorial advantage need to be rebutted.

    • Leslie Singleton
      Posted July 12, 2012 at 11:24 am | Permalink

      Interesting that nobody so far wants to give the slightest credence or weight to the work that MP’s do in their constituencies–very obviously there is going to be less of that with lower numbers. I repeat, being a proposal from this government it is likely to be wrong. This is what happens when you talk nonsense and bring in ridiculous ideas–people lose all faith–certainly I have.

  23. Brian Tomkinson
    Posted July 12, 2012 at 8:28 am | Permalink

    Your own party leaders do little publicly to state the case for boundary change in the way you have depicted it. Your coalition “partners” by saying they will withdraw support for it if they can’t have their own way with House of Lords reform are re-inforcing the view that it is gerrymandering by your party. The fact that they are trying to gerrymander the HoL is conveniently ignored. As you correctly state, no amount of boundary changes will guarantee a future Conservative government and on the current performance you will be lucky to end up back to the number of MPs you had in 2005 . As with all failures you need to look at the leadership. Sadly you chose the wrong leader of your party. Almost halfway through this Parliament the government has been a huge disappointment – it is very difficult to see how things will improve before the next election given the current (lack of) leadership. No doubt you are all hoping like Mr Micawber that something will turn up! I would rather the government followed his other maxim : “Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen pounds nineteen and six. Result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six. Result misery.”

  24. David Hope
    Posted July 12, 2012 at 8:32 am | Permalink

    Agreed the economy is the number one issue for the election, fairer boundary changes only benefit when you look likely to win.

    With high fuel costs, high taxes and continually rising food costs everyone has less money to spend.

    To win the election some imagination is needed – the treasury seems to have totally run out of ideas. Right now all we are getting in QE. Surely we can do better than that. Monetary policy is meant to be about slightly lower rates and looser money during a recession and then back to normal. Not what we have now with years of near zero rates and continually QE for “stimulus” which only seems to help keep bad banks going in their current zombie form.

    Lets have radical policy that cuts up all sorts of state interference. Monetary policy that gives a bit more incentive to save (I appreciate that the BoE has now checkmated itself having caused sufficient inflation above wages that it can’t now increase rates significantly) with more smaller banks in genuine competition.

    There should be a policy towards much flatter simpler taxes so energy is spent productively, not on tax accountants.

    Issues like soaring insurance and personal injury need proper work that divert effort away to paying solicitors uneccessarily.

    Finally, lets have genuine spending drecreases to pay for tax decreases so remove some of the austerity from the private sector that is needed for growth.

    In truth it may be too late. A bigger recession and cuts were needed earlier to cleanse bad debts and business and bigger cuts were needed. Anything done now may be too late for the election.

  25. Lord Blagger
    Posted July 12, 2012 at 8:48 am | Permalink

    1. Abolish the Lords. 150 million a year saved.

    2. Introduce referenda by proxy. 20 million on top of the 100 million a year spent on voter registration. Net saving 130 million a year.

    So what’s referenda by proxy?

    1. You register an MP, any MP as your proxy. If you live in the Gorbals, and like John, you can use him as a proxy.

    2. It’s proxy votes that count for the final passage of bills.

    Now look at the problems this solves.

    1. If you live in the Gorbals and want to vote tory, you get an equal say as anyone else.

    2. Democratic legitimacy. The electorate have had a say in issues. Currently they don’t. The majority of legislation isn’t even in manifestos. Currently we have no responsibility. MPs and Peers are responsible for the mess in government, not us.

    3. Manifestos. If its not in a manifesto, with proxy voting, it doesn’t matter. You can try and convince the electorate.

    4. Manifestos. I don’t want to vote for a package, lots of which isn’t good for me. If I vote on issues, its different.

    5. Fixed term parliaments. If I change my mind 1 year into a 5 year parliament, I can. I’m not stuck for 4 years.

    6. Corrupt MPs. Since you won’t give us the right of recall, proxy voting solves the issue, partly. Corrupt MPs will lose their proxy votes and so lose all influence.

    7. It just takes one MP to set up a website where they pass through votes. Then we have direct democracy, on the cheap. It even saves money.

    • Mark
      Posted July 13, 2012 at 9:40 am | Permalink

      You then would have the incentive to cherry-pick those measures that increased your income and spending on you and reduced your taxes. It wouldn’t be long before the whole thing collapsed under massive budget deficits.

  26. Posted July 12, 2012 at 9:00 am | Permalink

    Re boundary changes. An interesting comment from Conor Burns MP, quoted on the Spectator’s Coffee House blog, about the Coalition agreement two years ago:
    ‘The deal that was done was a very clear and explicit deal on AV in return for a equalisation of constituency boundaries. The Prime Minister, I think is more than entitled to hold Nick Clegg to that. You can’t then start bolting on extra bits because you didn’t win your referendum.’

    • uanime5
      Posted July 12, 2012 at 5:15 pm | Permalink

      Given the lack of Conservative support on AV Cameron shouldn’t be surprised that Clegg doesn’t support him on boundary changes. You reap what you sow.

      • Leslie Singleton
        Posted July 12, 2012 at 8:40 pm | Permalink

        This is a ridiculous comment.

  27. AJAX
    Posted July 12, 2012 at 9:16 am | Permalink

    #1 Getting out of a global economic slump is not in the power of the Treasury to organize (& even the £ printing at 0% interest rates is suffering from diminishing returns now).

    #2 The average mainstream voter cares not a jot about the EU electorally, but I presume your interest in this policy area isn’t actually about England but is really concerned with the threat of UKIP eroding the Tory Party’s power-base, which risks upseting your & your colleagues political career applecarts, … & that would never do

    #3 You or your Party haven’t got what it takes to take on those EU tentacles, that’s why you haven’t done it for decades, & hence your continual advocacy of offering little more on this site than a 1/2 hearted re-warming of the failed “try to get an opt-out” policy.

  28. backofanenvelope
    Posted July 12, 2012 at 9:29 am | Permalink

    Mr Cameron’s mistake (amongst many) was to combine the reduction in MP numbers with the redrawing of boundaries. These two ideas can be argued differently.

    I would also like to point out that reducing the number of MPs increases the influence of the “pay roll” vote.

    • Mark
      Posted July 12, 2012 at 12:42 pm | Permalink

      Which is an excellent argument for cutting the size of the “payroll”. Perhaps that would have happened if there weren’t the need to find jobs for Lib Dems in the coalition.

      The counter argument is that ministers need support of PPSs as a counterfoil to the dominance of civil servants. That is true, but it argues for a separate cadre of special advisors who are more expert than most PPSs will be, while also being politically astute. The selection of these people is still not well evolved. Some tend to be too political and insufficiently expert; others are simply friends or would-be politicians with inadequate experience despite knowledge gained in e.g. a think tank.

  29. Posted July 12, 2012 at 9:43 am | Permalink

    “The main reason must be to get a better value Parliament as part of general public sector reform”

    So was the reason for opposing having a Lords with a democratic mandate to provide better value, rather than that the Commons are protecting their monopoly of power. If so it would seem that the logical best value would be abolishing the Lords and end the pretence of bicameral government.

    Of course if it is fair that all MPs get elected by about the same number of people & it is, then logic also points out that our present corrupt electoral system means it takes many times more votes to elect a LibDem or Green MP & infinitely more for UKIP. Perhaps the concept of fairness only applies to the Conservatives vis a vis Labour?

    Reply: My objection to the proposal on Lords was the single election for 15 year tenure on party list choice.I am all in favour of reform of the Lords, and previously voted for an all elected Lords, but wanted one with differently defined powers and accountable. The Conservative Manifesto clearly stated the party supported First Past the Post for all Westminster elections.

    • Leslie Singleton
      Posted July 12, 2012 at 11:28 am | Permalink

      The Manifesto did indeed but unfortunately the Agreement did not.

    • Mark
      Posted July 12, 2012 at 12:47 pm | Permalink

      The Lords proposals will increase their cost by around £150m p.a. Lower cost is not an argument in favour of Clegg’s ideas.

      Lords are cheap currently because they only get paid an allowance when they work. That’s a good way to go if the aim is to have a wide range of expertise to call on when needed, rather than a pack of politicians only there for the whipped votes.

    • Posted July 13, 2012 at 10:07 am | Permalink

      I would like to defend the 15 year rule, which has come under considerable fire. If we are to have a 2nd chamber it has to be chosen in some significantly different way or it will simply be a pointless clone. The generally accepted reason for such a cjamber is that it is “the watchdog of the constitution”. In which case it makes perfect sense that it should have a longer timescale than the Commons. Making sure that it is selected as a reflection of opinion over a long time period means that it is not subject to the vagaries of the sort of 10% swing that can replace an overwhelming Conservative majority with a similar Labour one every few years. Flattening out political changes that turn out to be purely fashion is the strongest intellectual justification of constitutional conservatism. Our disproportional electoral system obviously also enhances such swings.

      It should also be remembered that 1/3rd will be re-elected at every election so it is not as if we vote and then get ignored – at least not any more than currently.

  30. Acorn
    Posted July 12, 2012 at 10:16 am | Permalink

    We have far too many MPs we could easily combine two present constituencies into one with one MP; dead easy. A US House Representative, same as an MP, but not lobby fodder connected to a political party; covers a population eight times the size. (435 for 312 million population.)

    As there is no sign of Secretary Pickles sorting out the mess that is the English local government structure; can I suggest the number 393. Keh you say. There are 406 Districts but NIs 26 are small so we would have to double them up to get a reasonable average and the magic 393. Dead easy minimum bureaucracy involved changing stuff.

    Alternatively. We could have a House of Lords with 393 Lords / Senators, 100% elected. Again, the US gets away with 100 for the whole country, two per State. It has come to pass in the US, that a Senator has no problem getting his face on TV. A House Representative – the MP equivalent – does not find it so easy. Frankly, I am starting to think it might be a smart move for the UK 99%.

    BTW, nobody has any affiliation with the geograpy of a “constituency”; but, a lot of people know what a District is, even if it is just the Council tax billing authority.

    Any one want to start the “393 party”. (This message is brought to you by the Ancient Order of Data Miners and Number Crunchers and we endorse this message.)

    PS. Dear Uncle John.
    On one of my rare visits to my GP, I am today advised that the appointment will be in 17 days time. Last Autumn the delay was 8 days. I am advised that this is because my group of GPs no longer has any control over who or what can attach themselves to their patient list. Please advise, because around here this is a solid gold vote looser!!!!!!!

    Reply: More delay should not be happening – contact your MP with chapter and verse and ask him to follow up for you.

  31. Glenn Vaughan
    Posted July 12, 2012 at 10:18 am | Permalink

    I understand that the population of the USA is approximately 305 million yet has 435 members elected to the House of Representatives. Our population is approximately 62 million yet we have 650 MPs elected to the House of Commons.

    Why is there a proposal is to reduce the number of MPs by just 50 to 600? Surely 350 – 400 MPs should be able to represent such a small UK electorate adequately(?)

    • Mark
      Posted July 12, 2012 at 12:52 pm | Permalink

      US State and local legislatures have a significant role in setting laws and raising taxes: rather greater than the powers of the current devolved parliaments in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland in fact. That leaves less to be decided in Congress.

      If there is a further argument for reducing the size of Parliament it is that it has abrogated its law-making to the EU – but if you wish to make that argument, you need to suggest that the EU should be given permanent primacy over our laws. Personally, I’d rather see law-making returned to these shores.

    • forthurst
      Posted July 12, 2012 at 2:23 pm | Permalink

      In the USA, as defined by the Constitution, the Executive is separate from the Legislature. As a consequence, there is a very good argument for increasing the number of MPs not reducing them unless there were other qualifications than having been elected to qualify someone to become an MP.

  32. Gewyne
    Posted July 12, 2012 at 10:19 am | Permalink

    You just need to keep to a clear message that the current system is intentionally unfair – then give the last 2 results

    2005 Labour win 35% of the vote and get 355 MPs
    2010 Conserv win 36% of the vote and get 306 MPs

    2005 Conserv win 32% of the vote and get 198 MPs
    2010 Labour win 29% of the vote and get 258 MPs

    simple – direct and to the point.

    • lifelogic
      Posted July 12, 2012 at 11:01 am | Permalink

      Indeed – mind you had Cameron not given Clegg equal billing on the TV debates (nor put a silly soft socialist, pro EU agenda forwards) he still might have won the election. He cannot win one now surely? Not even against Ed Miliband, the mouth piece of Unison.

      • zorro
        Posted July 13, 2012 at 2:40 pm | Permalink

        He shouldn’t have agreed to equal access to Clegg….unless of course he secretly wanted that. Those debates should have told you all you needed to know about Cameron and how he was likely to turn out in government.

        zorro

    • Martin
      Posted July 12, 2012 at 12:18 pm | Permalink

      So do you want PR then so that Conservative voters in Northern England or Scotland can have more Conservative MPs? (Conservatives in Scotland get about 16% of the votes but get only 1 MP (about 7 less than they would get under PR).

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted July 12, 2012 at 12:34 pm | Permalink

      Alternatively you could look at the results of the 2010 election in terms of the number of votes each party needed to get an MP elected, details in a post above which is awaiting moderation, and conclude that overall the pro-Labour bias was small and did not justify a wholesale reorganisation of the constituencies.

    • Mike Stallard
      Posted July 12, 2012 at 3:32 pm | Permalink

      Factor in all those postal votes signed in the same handwriting……….
      Add in a couple of cheap promises of goodies for “hard working people” and – Bingo!

    • uanime5
      Posted July 12, 2012 at 5:19 pm | Permalink

      Why not include the Lib Dem results to show how unfair it is as well.

      2005 Lib Dems win 22.1% of the vote and get 62 MPs.
      2010 Lib Dems win 23% of the vote and get 57 MPs.

      The whole system for electing MPs (FPTP) is pretty rotten.

      • lifelogic
        Posted July 12, 2012 at 8:31 pm | Permalink

        At least it (usually) keeps the Libdems out and they are clearly (wrong-ed).

  33. waramess
    Posted July 12, 2012 at 10:23 am | Permalink

    I think you should just forget it and reconcile youself to another spell in opposition.There will be no sea change. UKIP will nicely divide the conservative vote. No good complaining because all those UKIP voters do not support the current administration and will not be called to heel.

    Milliband will achieve the unthinkable and the Conservatives will change leader. Alas too late.

    Frankly this is all too obvious to be a foretell of the future. The clowns are not up to it and only their removal will change things.

    • lifelogic
      Posted July 12, 2012 at 11:06 am | Permalink

      What are the betting odds on Cameron winning an actual majority in 2015? They must be very low indeed and declining by the day surely? More chance of a nice Euro job for him I rather suspect.

      • zorro
        Posted July 13, 2012 at 2:42 pm | Permalink

        Indeed as we have suspected all along….

        zorro

    • Gewyne
      Posted July 12, 2012 at 11:34 am | Permalink

      I guess it is hard when you are embroiled in things day in, day out – you forget the perspective of the people outside looking in.

      It’s the same with the sense of Britishness that a lot of MPs extol. They are surrounded by pomp and ceremony, flags, paintings, art work as well as the surroundings of Parliament. Day in day out, for years (some their entire lives) they are subjected to this and somehow think that Joe Public who maybe sees a union jack/St.George other than on TV maybe once a year whilst passing the Council House while shopping should feel the same.

  34. HJ
    Posted July 12, 2012 at 11:19 am | Permalink

    I agree with John, but if the government really wants to cut the costs of MPs and show a good example, reform of MP’s and ministers’ pension should be a priority.

    The current scheme should be frozen (i,e, no more rights accrued under it) and MPs should receive a typical private sector employer’s contribution towards a money purchase scheme. This would put them in the same boat as the rest of us and give them the moral high ground when reforming public sector schemes.

    It makes my blood boil that Gordon Brown will receive a generous prime ministerial pension funded by taxpayers whose pensions he deliberately damaged, and when he left us with such a huge fiscal mess. It is outrageous that he is protected from the consequences of his own policies.

  35. rose
    Posted July 12, 2012 at 11:22 am | Permalink

    Another annoying misrepresentation by the media is that Lords Reform was in exchange for boundaries. No-one from the conservative side ever corrects this properly, getting bogged dwon instead in distracting arguments on the media’s terms.

    If there was a quid pro quo, surely it was AV referendum for boundadries reform, and the first part has now been honoured, so the second should be. Why let the Liberals get away with taking the moral high ground over this?

    • uanime5
      Posted July 13, 2012 at 5:50 pm | Permalink

      Given that the AV referendum was lost and was opposed by the Conservatives surely the Lib Dems should respond in kind and oppose boundary reforms to ensure this bill is lost. It would be quid pro quo support.

  36. Posted July 12, 2012 at 11:42 am | Permalink

    This is to be applauded, but I’d gladly spend a little more on MPs if the result was that we got MPs with a sense of financial prudence. 50MPs is what, a saving of £10m per year? That’s 1000th of what the Olympics are costing us?

  37. RDM
    Posted July 12, 2012 at 12:25 pm | Permalink

    How about;

    Put a Bill forward that has as a first part, a vote on the Timetable for Lords Reform, and the second part made up of two options for reducing the number of MP’s.

    Option One would have a large number of Labour constituency’s, say a reduction of 50 seats within Wales and North England.

    Option Two would have a reduction from 40 down to 30, etc …

    Regards,

    RDM.

  38. Conrad Jones (Cheam)
    Posted July 12, 2012 at 12:38 pm | Permalink

    “I voted for it because I think public spending has to be reduced and it seemed like a good idea to start with a cut in Parliament, to show we can do more for less. We need to raise public sector produtivity across the board, so Parliament should show how.”

    I agree – Public Spending has to be reduced. Seems Logical, but our Monetary System isn’t logical.

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but if we continue cutting Public spending at a Time when our Money Supply is shrinking and the Private Sector is bracing itself for the next financial storm, won’t this make the Economy worse?

    Or are you thinking that the £50 billion that the Bank of England will create at the push of a keyboard will be efficiently used by Banks to generate enough Loans to re-inflate the Money Supply? (BBC Report (1 May 2012): “Small firms ‘at risk’ from interest rate derivative loans, An MP has claimed up to a hundred small businesses in Wales are at risk after being allegedly mis-sold loans with complicated strings attached. ” My old friend Robert Peston (“How do Banks work” fame) has written a good article on this Interest Rate Derivative Market to UK Businesses. )

    If we can create £50 billion and give it to Banks in the expectation (no strings attached) that they will promise to loan this money into the Economy (or fuel speculative bubbles), why not just use the £50 billion directly for Public Works to boost the Economy? (Or does this go back to Maastricht Treaty – thanks to John Major?). Prof. Steve Keen’s Debt Jubilee seems the most sensible immediate policy with the Introduction of PositiveMoney’s proposals gradually introduced to prevent the need for another Debt Jubilee in fifty years time.

    Cutting the number of MPs when the Population of the UK is increasing does not make any logical sense. We need more views in Parliament – not less.

    We need to keep focused on the Real Problems – not the Window Dressing in order to keep up appearances that it is the majority of people in the Country that casued the Financial Chaos. The Telegraph reported: “Big Four banks admit to mis-selling interest rate swaps”.

    • zorro
      Posted July 13, 2012 at 2:44 pm | Permalink

      This QE money has been wasted and has allowed the government to carry on wasting money on things at which it is hopeless, and covering the (prospective) losses of our zombie banks.

      zorro

  39. Conrad Jones (Cheam)
    Posted July 12, 2012 at 12:49 pm | Permalink

    “I voted for it because I think public spending has to be reduced and it seemed like a good idea to start with a cut in Parliament, to show we can do more for less. We need to raise public sector produtivity across the board, so Parliament should show how.”

    Is it not the case that while “We have to do more for less” the CEOs of the big Financial Institutions “Can do less for more” ? Bob Diamond is still going to get 2 million quid for LIBOR fixing. is that hush money so that he won’t rat on his accomplices?

    One reason why People are losing their businesses is because of the ‘Interest Rate Swap Products’ which they were mis-sold, they are not losing their businesses because there are too many MPs in the House of Commons.

    • forthurst
      Posted July 12, 2012 at 10:26 pm | Permalink

      “One reason why People are losing their businesses is because of the ‘Interest Rate Swap Products’ which they were mis-sold, they are not losing their businesses because there are too many MPs in the House of Commons.”

      What is a matter of grave concern is that there were only five corporate banksters offering to swindle SMEs with these products; with a fully competitive banking sector, the choice would have been much greater.

  40. Conrad Jones (Cheam)
    Posted July 12, 2012 at 1:05 pm | Permalink

    “The best way to win the election is for Conservative policies to be applied to turn the economy round. ”

    Yes – of course you are right on this.

    Please can you explain how money is created to the OBR, I don’t think they understand what they are proposing. They should be careful what they wish for.

    George Osborne will be taken in by the OBR, because he will assume they know what they are doing. Then the Money supply will suddenly Collapse after cutting all public spending and private spending.

    • Mark
      Posted July 12, 2012 at 10:15 pm | Permalink

      I took a look at the OBR projections through to 2062. You might get as much sense consulting Mystic Meg at the end of the pier, although it’s all backed by faux-accurate calculations.

  41. Conrad Jones (Cheam)
    Posted July 12, 2012 at 1:10 pm | Permalink

    Well said:

    “The Prime Minister will also need to set out in that election how he intends to create a new relationship with the EU that frees us from the tentacles that bind us against our will and interests. ”

    Could equally apply to the City of London:

    “The Prime Minister will also need to set out in that election how he intends to create a new relationship with the City of London that frees us from the tentacles that bind us against our will and interests. “

  42. peter davies
    Posted July 12, 2012 at 1:19 pm | Permalink

    We used to run an empire with nowhere near the amount of politicos we have now for one country.

    Lets cut back the number of MPs and double hat the devolved assemblies so UK and devolved business has a clear dividing line. That way all UK business is done in Westminster and devolved business is done separately also allowing English only MPs to vote on English only matters.

    By taking this extra step you would achieve 3 things; cut out much of the dead wood like we have in the Welsh Assembly, less public spending which was why the coalition was put in place I presume and a more balanced democracy.

    On the subject of an EU referendum should the government not be putting an legislative timetable in place now to pave the way for a referendum rather than a ‘cast iron promise’?

    • RDM
      Posted July 13, 2012 at 10:48 am | Permalink

      Well said that Man!

      The first thing to be cut should be the Welsh Assemble!

    • Conrad Jones (Cheam)
      Posted July 16, 2012 at 12:03 pm | Permalink

      Although I agree that only English MPs should be allowed to vote on only English Matters, by boundary changes that reduce the number of MPs could just as easily be used to get rid of good MPs as bad ones.

      There are a minority excellent MPs who do carry out excellent work who could be lost to these changes. It seems to me that these boundary changes might look good to a Political Strategist, but doesn’t it divert MPs from their main role of expressing the opinion of their Constituents?

      Less public spending on Bank subsidies would be a better way of saving money.

      We need a proper Referendum on the Maastricht Treaty – only three Countries held one and the UK wasn’t one of them. It was widely Reported at the time that the Maastricht Treaty was far too complicated for the average person to understand, despite it having such a controlling effect on the economy and other areas of National Control.

  43. Caterpillar
    Posted July 12, 2012 at 1:44 pm | Permalink

    “On current boundaries it takes more Conservative votes than Labour votes to get an MP elected. ”

    Of course if a two vote MMP system had been offered rather than AV then some progress might have been made; constituency representation which could include geographic size arguments, (top up) proportionality for fairness between parties and some follow-on need to win the argument in the Commons, hence easing the revising arguments re the Lords.

    It could all be very simple (once equity between principalities and EU are sorted), just have two vote (constituenct and party) MMP with 600 seats.

  44. Kernowstu
    Posted July 12, 2012 at 2:42 pm | Permalink

    The easiest way to reform the Lords would be to simply remove all their financial insentives for being there. No expenses, no subsidised meals, no Ermine allowance. If this were the case, only those truly motivated by political philanthropy would turn up. It would no doubt stem the tide of party political appointments to the Lords once it ceases to be a post commons career gravy train.

    I fear it’s too late for Cameron to win back public trust, only an EU membership referendum prior to the next general election and perhaps publicly kicking Clegg in the testicles can save the day for the Tories…..

  45. ITF_Tory
    Posted July 12, 2012 at 3:05 pm | Permalink

    Someone may have already made this point but…

    The Lib Dems are threatening to vote against the boundary changes after the problems with the Lords reform, despite the boundary changes being linked to the AV referendum.

    Part of the reason the government isn’t pushing for an EU referendum is because the Lib Dems don’t want it.

    So, it seems to me that the Coalition agreement should have linked the Lords reform (for the LDs) to an EU referendum (for the Conservatives). Both topics are constitutional in nature.

    The AV referendum (LD) and boundary changes (Conservative) are more democracy/electoral in nature.

    If these explicit links had been made, then perhaps both parties would be a lot happier.

    • lifelogic
      Posted July 12, 2012 at 8:34 pm | Permalink

      Cameron does not want an EU referendum it is not the libdems.

    • Mark
      Posted July 12, 2012 at 9:56 pm | Permalink

      The AV referendum should have been a year 4 carrot, not offered immediately, so as to bind the Lib Dems into being sensible.

  46. ITF_Tory
    Posted July 12, 2012 at 3:21 pm | Permalink

    On the point of reducing the number of MPs and equalising the constituency sizes:

    If the number of MPs is reduced, then the boundaries would have to be redrawn. So why not equalise the constituency size? There is an argument that the constituencies as they are represent areas, and the proposed new constituencies have silly boundaries that cross local/historical/geographical divides. I don’t think that stands up to intellectual argument. Some of the current constituencies cross these divides already, and if MPs are meant to represent certain local/geographical/historical areas rather than equal-size numbers of people, then this sounds like a rotten boroughs to me.

    There is the further point that the proposed boundary changes do not equalise the constituency sizes. They merely tighten the allowable difference from the average for each constituency. I’m not sure of the exact numbers off the top of my head, so I’ll make up some representative ones:
    Currently the constituencies are allowed to be within 10% of the average size. The proposal is that they must be within 5%.

    • Mark
      Posted July 12, 2012 at 10:12 pm | Permalink

      At the last election the average electorate was 70,149. About 100 constituencies were smaller than 10% less, and a further 100 larger than 10% more. Almost two thirds of constituencies fell outside of the average +/-5%.

  47. uanime5
    Posted July 12, 2012 at 4:06 pm | Permalink

    Given that the Government hasn’t fixed the economy after 2 years and has lost all credibility due to their constant u-turns they’ll have to do something pretty spectacular to win the next election.

    Also it seems that G4S can’t deliver the security it promised, despite having 7 years notice, so the army is going to make up the shortfall. Yet another failing of the private sector that has to be fixed by the public sector.
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/olympics/news/9395081/Olympic-security-contractor-G4S-told-ministers-only-yesterday-it-could-not-fulfil-brief.html

    • Mark
      Posted July 12, 2012 at 9:54 pm | Permalink

      You think taking only 13 years to bring the country to the brink of bankruptcy is a recommendation?

      • Conrad Jones (Cheam)
        Posted July 13, 2012 at 8:48 am | Permalink

        To be fair, Labour only put the final nails in the economy’s coffin.

        This problem has been brewing for over forty years, ever since we left the Gold Standard. The Gold Standard was useful for a debt based money system as it prevented massive unlimited credit expansion.

        A pure Fiat Currency Created by the Government and not the Banks, would – in my view; stabilise the system. It would no longer favour the bigger Banks. They would have to attract Depositors money in order to make loans, at present they do not, they are just chosing to reduce their lending.

        It is interesting to note that Banks are advantaged over other businesses in many ways – here’s one I found out only recently:

        1. A Bank can buy Assets without spending any money as an Asset can be used to balance out the Liability of the Newly Created Money in the sellers deposit account. Using the FSA Liquiditiy Ratio Calculation, this Asset (i.e. Government Bond bought from a Pension Fund) helps increase the Apparent Reserves of the Bank.

        I may have got this wrong – so if anyone works for a Bank and can clarify this for me I would greatly appreciate it.

        Thanks.

        • Conrad Jones (Cheam)
          Posted July 13, 2012 at 9:55 am | Permalink

          For anyone interested, this is the Liquidity Ratio for Banks as formulated by the FSA – “4.2 The sterling stock liquidity ratio”
          from “Interim Prudential Sourcebook” IPRU BANKS, published by the FSA.

          “The sterling stock liquidity ratio should be calculated as:

          Stock of sterling liquid assets × 100 /
          (Wholesale sterling net outflow over the next 5 working days
          – allowable sterling certificates of deposit held) +
          5% sterling retail deposits falling due in the next 5 working days.”

          The “5% sterling retail deposits” means that the Asset is counted at 100% where the newly created Deposit is only counted as 5%, meaning that although the Bank never had the money to begin with, they bought an Asset and at the same time, increased their Liquidity Ratio.

          I must have got this wrong, because it means that providing a Bank can “buy” Assets by crediting the Account of it’s Corporate Pension Fund Accounts, it may embark in virtually unlimited lending practices.

          Can anyone confirm or disprove this?

          Thanks.

        • Conrad Jones (Cheam)
          Posted July 13, 2012 at 10:14 am | Permalink

          “A pure Fiat Currency Created by the Government and not the Banks, would – in my view; stabilise the system.” – this seems like it would make things worse but the Policy to regulate Money Creation and Destruction would be set by Parliament. If a Government set the Policy to increase inflation above 2%, an opposition Party could offer to lower this if elected.

          The only stable part of the Money system is Notes and Coins, which are regulated and created by the Government.

          Banks have far too many incentives to Lend (in Boom times) and cut back (in Recessions). They therefore control both Money Creation and Destruction.

          The Banks needs – in this System; are counterproductive to the needs of the rest of the Economy.

        • zorro
          Posted July 13, 2012 at 2:48 pm | Permalink

          Banks do not raid their piggy bank to buy anything – the beauty of ‘assets’ and ‘liabilities’….

          zorro

      • uanime5
        Posted July 13, 2012 at 5:58 pm | Permalink

        Well for most of those 13 years there was good growth and it was only negative in 2008-2009 due to the financial crisis. By contrast in two years the Coalition has only produced minor growth and a double dip recession. Given the choice I’d prefer boom and bust instead of constant bust.

  48. Barbara Stevens
    Posted July 12, 2012 at 5:42 pm | Permalink

    Well there are to many MPs, India as less than us and it’s five times bigger. Of course, we have missed a golden opportunity to change for the better, by making the commons have only 350 MPs which should be plenty. We see this arguement for the House of Lords, where a simple law making them retire at 75 would clear them by a third and reduce the costs this nation is paying for over indulgence of appointments. We are paying out far to much money for the size of this country, and this gravy train should be stopped. Its insulting for those who work 24/7 for little pay. When you hear of the costs it makes you cringe, and when you hear about cuts that makes you cringe too.
    There is something fundementally wrong with this nation when so many can reap rewards for so little, if there’s nothing that angers people more. Its all out of control, and I cannot see it improving in the near future, meanwhile the gravy keeps flowing.

  49. Michael Cawood
    Posted July 12, 2012 at 5:59 pm | Permalink

    The Conservatives need to be fighting the main enemy of Britain which is inflation. Instead they are adding to it with pointless Quantitative Easing, which is nothing short of disgraceful.

  50. lojolondon
    Posted July 13, 2012 at 4:56 am | Permalink

    John, regarding Lords reform. The LibDems know very well that their actions in the coalition have finished them off. They are all out of a job next election, and UKIP are already the third most popular party, although they currently have no seats in parliament. (ironic that AV may very well have changed this!)
    So they are frantic for Lords reform to keep themselves being paid to hang around Westminster, and away from a proper job.
    For that reason, if for no other, we are all against Lords reform (now).

  51. Lindsay McDougall
    Posted July 13, 2012 at 1:58 pm | Permalink

    I know that only Mr Redwood’s final sentence talks about the EU but there is an EU issue that I wish to raise. It is reported in the Telegraph business section that there is a case currently being heard by the German Consitutional Court. Some left wingers and other malcontents are seeking an injunction to prevent the German government contibuting to the main (€ 500 billion) EU bail out fund on the ground that such payments violate the German constitution. They are supported by some more important groups, for example the Christian Social Union of Bavaria, Angela Merkel’s junior partner in government, and the Bundesbank.

    Last but not least, the chief justice of the court is sympathetic. He is on record as contradicting the spirit of the Lisbon Treaty, asserting that Germany is master of its treaties, not their servant, and that a formal political and fiscal union in the EU would require a new German constitution. He has said that his court will rule on the injunction within 3 months and on the wider constitutional issues by early 2013.

    Needless to say, this leisuely schedule is not to the liking of the EU courts, the European Commission or the club med governments desparate for cash, particularly Italy.

    Methinks that the Italians would be very wise to resurrect the career of Silvio Berlusconi and reinstate the lira.

  52. Tony
    Posted July 14, 2012 at 7:46 am | Permalink

    Could not agree more, cuts to both houses could save us tax, and give us on a pension a bit more. Also reduce still further the amount these none contributing to the country people get, I am 67 still working sometimes a 60 hour week so I can have a life, which I could not have on the £95 state pension I get, and have paid into the system for many years. These people who do nothing and expect to get £250 a week for doing it do my head in.

  • About John Redwood


    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

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