BILL TO FULFIL BROWN’S PROMISE: “POWER TO PARLIAMENT AND THE PEOPLE”

As G20 demonstrators prepare to gather in London, a Liberal Democrat Peer is to introduce legislation in the House of Lords to abolish the special protections from protest offered to politicians and civil servants.

Twenty months after the Prime Minister told the House of Commons of his ambition to “agree a new British constitutional settlement that entrusts more power to Parliament and the British people,” Lord Tyler has produced legislation to put his proposals on the statute book.

The Constitutional Renewal Bill and Explanatory Notes will be available on the Parliament website tomorrow (www.parliament.uk) or on request from daviesa@parliament.uk

Commenting, Lord Tyler said:

“It is farcical that legitimate demonstration is banned at the seat of our democracy. The possibility of peaceful protest near Parliament is essential if people are to believe that politicians want to listen.

“The Government has promised a Constitutional Renewal Bill to restore civil liberties and drag our political system into the 21st century.

“The draft they published last year was a mouse, and Ministers have continued to dither over whether and how to bring back a stronger set of proposals in this Parliament.

“This redraft of the Government’s Bill could give effect to more than a decade of Labour manifesto commitments and Prime Ministerial statements. It is professionally drafted and could be debated in both Houses before the General Election if Gordon Brown wills it.

“As he prepares for his swansong in office, he has a choice. He can leave Britain with Conservative constitutional relics, or he can move the country on and leave a real legacy of democratic change.”

ENDS

Notes to Editors:

· The Bill was professionally drafted, with the benefit of a grant from the Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust Ltd, but the contents are entirely the responsibility of Lord Tyler

· The Bill fulfils a series of Government commitments:

“I think it right – in consultation with the metropolitan police, Parliament, the Mayor of London, Westminster city council and civil liberties groups – to change the laws that now restrict the right to demonstrate in Parliament Square.”

Gordon Brown, Statement to the House of Commons, 3 July 2007

“The role of Attorney General which combines legal and ministerial functions needs to change.”

Gordon Brown, Statement to the House of Commons, 3 July 2007

“I propose, in addition, to put onto a statutory footing Parliament’s right to ratify new international treaties.”

Gordon Brown, Statement to the House of Commons, 3 July 2007

“To reinforce the neutrality of the civil service, the core principles governing it will no longer be set at the discretion of the executive but will be legislated by Parliament – and so this Government has finally responded to the central recommendation of the Northcote-Trevelyan report on the civil service made over 150 years ago in 1854.”

Gordon Brown, Statement to the House of Commons, 3 July 2007

“This general election was called only after months of on-again, off-again dithering which damaged our economy and weakened our democracy. No government with a majority should be allowed to put the interests of party above country as the Conservatives have done. Although an early election will sometimes be necessary, we will introduce as a general rule a fixed parliamentary term.”

Labour Party manifesto, 1992 General Election

“We are committed to a referendum on the voting system for the House of Commons.”

Labour Party manifesto, 1997 General Election

“A referendum remains the right way to agree any change [to the voting system] for Westminster.”

Labour Party manifesto, 2001 and 2005 General Elections“

“In the House of Commons, if you break the criminal law, or for example it’s found that although you haven’t broken the criminal law, you have been doing some thing completely improper, then the House of Commons can in extremis expel you. And that must apply to the House of Lords.”

Jack Straw interview with Sky News, February 2009

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