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It's Speaker Week on PM. Read Greg Dyke's ideas here.

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Eddie Mair | 17:00 UK time, Wednesday, 17 June 2009


Here at PM, we're offering you the chance to vote for the best ideas on cleaning up public life and restoring faith in politics.

We're calling it Speaker Week.

We've asked four people - none of them politicians - to put forward their personal manifestos for change. You can hear them on consecutive nights, and on Friday they'll debate each other.

Then you'll be able to vote by phone for the person whose ideas you like best.

On Monday it was the manifesto of Colonel Tim Collins, which you can read here.

Last night it was the manifesto of A L Kennedy.

Tonight, it's the manifesto of Greg Dyke.

Feel free to read his words and let us know what you think by clicking on Comments.

"The scandal over MP's expenses is symbolic of something much more profound in our country. Our political system is sick, cynicism about politics and politicians has never been greater and there is a desperate need for change. The task of the new speaker is to bring that about.

As Speaker I would start on day one by ending all the nonsense that surrounds Prime Ministers questions. MP's who jeered, shouted or interrupted would be disciplined. Overnight I'd make MP's behave like adults instead of spoilt children.

On Day two I'd scrap all the pomp and ceremony that engulfs parliament, all those ridiculous men in tights, all that bowing and scraping and all the ludicrous, outdated language that is used.

But that would only be the start. On Day Three I'd set up a speakers' commission, which I would chair, tasked with coming up with long term changes to the whole of our political system. And membership of my commission wouldn't be dominated by MP's, on the basis that turkeys don't vote for Christmas.

So what would I want the commission to recommend?

The first would be symbolic; to move Parliament out of the Palace of Westminster and convert the existing building into the museum it already resembles. I'd move parliament to a new modern building in somewhere like Milton Keynes or Leeds. Overnight that would change the whole atmosphere of parliamentary politics.

At the same time I'd reduce the number of MP's to around 400 cutting more than a third of the total. There are far too many at present. I'd use the money we'd save in salaries to pay the rest a decent wage, around £80,000 a year, with a fixed expenses allowance enabling them to employ support staff, but not their wives, husbands or other members of the family. But that's all the money they would get.

I'd introduce a system of proportional representation so that the number of MP's a party has reflects the number of votes it gets. In the last general election Labour got an overall majority of more than sixty with the support of only 21% of the total electorate and 36% of those who voted. How is that democratic? The current system is unfair and more importantly, an obstacle to change.

I'd limit MP's to standing for three terms only, a maximum of twelve years, so we would no longer have a political class who are cradle to grave politicians. We want different people to be involved in politics at different times in their lives.

I'd take power away from the Prime Minister by having fixed term elections every four years, as happens in almost every other democracy in the world.

I'd do away with the House of Lords and replace it with a fully elected second chamber where there is no whipping system so that members would vote on each issue on merit rather than being told how to vote by their party and the party leader.

Currently, Britain is the most centralised state in Europe. So we need to devolve power downwards. But that will only work if we find new ways of involving the electorate in the decision making process.

The days of old fashioned representative democracy are over. Our democratic model, designed for the 18th century, doesn't fit 21st century Britain. Compared with 50 years ago we are a better educated nation, less deferential and people have a higher sense of self esteem. As a result we all want more influence over our lives.

In my lifetime the world has changed beyond recognition, in that same time parliament and the political system has scarcely changed at all and that is the root of the problem. It's time to be radical."


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