I hope readers will forgive the repitition, but it is necessary to refer once again on this subject to the Coalition's "Our Programme for Government" in which it is stated (page 27)
"We will bring forward early legislation to introduce a power of recall, allowing voters to force a by-election where an MP is found to have engaged in serious wrongdoing and having had a petition calling for a by-election signed by 10% of his or her constituents."only to discover, when the Bill was presented to Parliament, that the final decision will rest with a committee of an errant peer's 'elders'. In other words the original proposal was a sop to democracy, one intended to give the impression that power was being devolved when in fact power had not been devolved as the final decision remained with the political elite.
So it is with this latest idea. We will have to wait for the details, but it will be interesting to see whether these 'lay' members of the public will be in addition to the present number that sit on committees, or whether they will be included in that number - in any event they will be outnumbered by the MPs on the committee. When one reads that 'lay' members of the public will be involved, the impression is given that those 'lay' members will comprise the likes of you and me, 'ordinary' people, yet when one looks at the 'lay' members on the General Medical Council or the Solicitors Regulation Authority those 'lay' members are most definitely not 'ordinary' people. What will be the selection process and who will make the decision on those to be elevated to this new standards committee?
As with the recall of MPs, this latest idea to make Parliament more transparent and accountable to the public does anything but that - it retains all power in the hands of the few. Reading the comments (61 at the time of writing) there is not one in favour of this proposed idea - and in fact all are not only dismissive but include one request not to be a member of the committee, but a member of the firing squad.
If the existing Standards & Privileges Committee is to be split into two, then by the same reasoning should not the Privileges Committee also have 'lay' members? In fact, again as one commenter writes, should not both committees be comprised of 'lay' members?
This proposal is but another example of how our democratic system is broken, misused by the political elite for personal gain, whilst having reached the point whereby to apply the word democracy to it is not just a misnomer, it is deceitful. It is noticed that those two stalwarts of 'direct democracy', Hannan and Carswell, so far are absent from this debate - probably because 'their plan' continues the idea of central power and control.