Nick Clegg: cut the number of MPs by 150

From the BBC:

Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg is calling for the number of MPs in the House of Commons to be cut by 150.

This would save taxpayers millions of pounds and cut political parties’ need to raise cash from big donors, he says.

In a speech setting out his proposals for re-building trust in politics he will also call for a shake-up in party funding and a new electoral system.

He also proposes people be asked, when voting at elections, if they want to donate £3 to a party of their choice.

Mr Clegg is expected to say there should be a £25,000 cap on donations to political parties and a £10m limit on annual spending by political parties.

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  • Can we cut the number of councillors by a third too. That way we could get electoral competition within parties.

  • Martin Land 13th Mar '08 - 7:03pm

    Lets think… Independent Scotland – that’s 59 less… Independent Wales – that’s minus 40… Northern Ireland -another 18… almost there… Cornwall?

  • Hmmmmm, 150 less MPs, 150 more opportunities for the Government to ride roughshod over parliament.

    I would rather see a cut in the number of ministers to be honest.

  • Difficult to see quite why this line is being pushed. Electoral reform would be a more significant change, by several orders of magnitude, than adjusting the number of MPs – to save a reported 50p per citizen per year!

    As for asking for political donations at the polling station, I suspect election day is the worst possible time for political parties to be extending a begging bowl, considering how many unwanted leaflets we’ll have just thrust through their letter-boxes.

    But I don’t believe this kind of issue excites the electorate very much anyway.

    Chris Phillips

  • I’m not instinctively against this but I have not seen a debate on this policy yet. Before we call for a cut in the number of MPs we need to think about what MPs should do, how much work they can delegate to support staff and how many MPs we need per head of population.

    Has this policy gone through conference yet?

  • What would be interesting would be a comparison of MPs per electorate in UK as compared to other Euorpean countries – e.g. France, Spain, Germany etc
    Anyone know where those figures might be?
    Then at least we could see whether we have more or fewer than similar countries.

  • Why MP’s and not MSP’s and AM’s? Since people are already overrepresented in Scotland and Wales compared to the UK it would be interesting to hear what Nick Clegg thought should be done with regards to them – although perhaps it’s too sensitive an area!

  • Sorry that should be overrepresented in Scotland and Wales compared to England

  • Nick’s speech neatly coincided – on purpose for once – with our Liberal Democrat debate in the Lords on fairer votes. We are beginning to develop a truly comprehensive package of constitutional reforms to take power back to the poeple. Take a look at Hansard on the much improved Lords pages of the Parliament website.

  • What a ridiculous proposal. It just plays to populist anti-politician sentiments & is just the sort of crap you would expect from NuLabCon, not a LibDem.

    We have fully developed policy on electoral reform & constitutional change which is truly radical. This isn’t.

  • This policy has been fished out & presented in this way now purely for its perceived resonance with the current very anti-politician views of the media. This is just populism.

    Where does the figure of losing 150 MPs come from? Where’s the emphasis on fair votes & the essential parts of our constitutional reform policy in this little soundbite then?

  • Oh there they are, just mentioned in passing, at the very end, after all the populist crap.

  • I just don’t see it, I’m afraid. It is just another part of the dripfeeding of anti-politician sentiment.

    If the electorate fail to see the benefit in fair votes of actually getting what they vote for, then I seriously doubt they will make the link between MP-bashing & constitutional reform.

    Nick Clegg & his advisors should really then be finding ways to make the fair votes argument instead of jumping on the anti-politics tabloid bandwagon.

    And James, if the Tories have the same policy then it’s very likely to be the wrong one, isn’t it?

  • I just think that right now constituencies are small enough for MPs to know them in detail, even down to neighbourhood level. Making them bigger might tip this in the other direction.

  • Oh dear MatGB & James, you REALLY have been taken in if you believe that.

    The Tories, like NuLab have ABSOLUTELY NO PRINCIPLES. They will say ANYTHING to get elected, even, if as in the two policies you cite, their previous policies – and actions in Government – were the diametric opposite of what they say now.

    Did you learn nothing from the last 10 years?

  • France – 577 members, pop 64,473,140
    Spain – 350 (lower house), pop 45.2 million
    Germany – 614 (Bundestag), pop 82,438,000
    Italy – 630 (deputies), pop 59,206,382

    It would appear we are towards the top end in terms of numbers.

  • I think what I found strangest about this is that it was being touted as a means of saving taxpayers’ money – “He told BBC Radio 4’s PM programme cutting the number of MPs by “at least a quarter” would save about £30m a year”.

    What is that as a percentage of government expenditure? 2 or 3 hundredths of one percent?

    If that’s the best idea we have for saving money, we’d better not say anything more about aspirations to cut taxes as a result of efficiency savings.

    But if it’s not the best idea we have for saving money, why is it the headline? It’s difficult to believe it’s not a cheap attempt to play to the “John Lewis” issue.

    Playing to the agenda of the right-wing tabloids is a very dangerous game. Surely the EU referendum debacle demonstrated that clearly enough?

    Chris Phillips

  • Reducing the number of MPs by 150 changes the number of voters in the average constituency from 70,000 to 100,000 – a nice round number.

    Since evolutionary psychology points to the optimum and maximum sizes of personal community measured by the amount of contact between members (~1,500 for a village, ~25,000 for a town etc), there may be an argument in favour of better and more accountable representation by corresponding the figures more closely with the ability to be represented.

    Once such a link is fixed in principle, the legitimacy of the case for more proportional representation is strategically advanced. Thus it is a natural LibDem policy argument.

    I would go further because I think this also makes a case for additional devolution and an extra level of government at a federal or regional level.

    On those grounds I begin to differ as a dual approach to reform offers improvement by combination whereas a single shiny headline-grabbing announcement only threatens to undermine the current state of our institutions. One without the other won’t work.

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