UK Politics

No policy changes after coalition consultation

David Cameron and Nick Clegg
Image caption The coalition has said it has taken big steps to make government more transparent

The coalition has signalled it will not be changing any policies as a result of public feedback on its programme.

No 10 said it had received 9,500 comments about the coalition agreement after it invited comment on it in May.

It has produced detailed responses to key concerns including school reform, immigration and the voting system.

But despite no changes in policy, Treasury Chief Secretary Danny Alexander said it showed the government had "engaged" with key concerns.

And he said the "crowdsourcing" exercise had been a "worthwhile" process.

No 10 has published responses from all government departments to public responses to the landmark coalition agreement which it said covered subjects ranging from "climate change to badger culling".

'Next steps'

In explaining the government's position on the issues of most interest to people, it said departments had set out the "next steps" for meeting their policy objectives.

The documents largely highlight areas where the public agrees with the direction of coalition policy but a number of sceptical comments are noted.

The Department for Education noted "your concerns" about the introduction of free schools - which would allow parents and other groups to set up new state schools - but said such reforms were needed to "accelerate" educational improvement.

The Cabinet Office noted that a "number of" respondents had urged a future referendum on the electoral system to offer a range of options for change including a fully proportional system.

But it said the planned referendum on the alternative vote due for next May would "give people a choice" and result in a "clear yes or no" answer.

Meanwhile, the Department for Business acknowledged a "large number of comments" had called for university tuition fees to be frozen or abolished entirely - the subject of an independent review and source of tension within the coalition.

The Home Office acknowledged calls from a "number of people" for immigration from other EU countries to be limited and the "strong support" for tighter restrictions on migrants' benefits.

However, it said "free movement is one of the founding principles" of the EU and something British citizens enjoy and it stressed that most migrants were "expected to be self-sufficient" and were not entitled to benefits.

Mr Alexander said the overall response had been "fantastic".

"I hope people will see this is different, a permanent change to the way we run government and it is worthwhile engaging in this kind of process in future," he said.

The government has also published its first monthly update of progress made by departments in meeting key reform targets.

The Structural Reform Plans are meant to replace "top down" targets and allow the public to monitor the government's progress on delivering its aims and pledges.

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