» Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Democratic Renewal Council

Asked whether the Prime Minister thought today s Commons statement on democratic reform should be seen as a diversionary tactic away from the real issue of MPs expenses, the PMS said that there had been some incorrect reporting, particularly by the BBC last night, about what the Prime Minister was supposed to be saying today. We had to deal with the issues directly relating to MPs expenses, and that was what we were doing and what the Prime Minister would be setting out in his statement later today. Crucially, that involved pushing forward with legislation as a matter of urgency in order to establish an independent regulator for MPs.

On electoral reform the Prime Minister had said a number of times, most recently on the BBC s Andrew Marr programme that he was in favour of a debate on that issue.

Put that electoral reform was not a priority issue compared to other issues such as the economy, the PMS said no one was suggesting that it was. There was a pressing need to deal with the issue relating to MPs expenses and that was why the Prime Minister wanted to see all MPs have their expenses reassessed by the independent panel, and why he wanted to see legislation taken forward to set up the independent regulator. Of course there would be a wider debate about wider constitutional issues. Economic issues were also an absolute priority of the Government.

Asked whether today s statement was an interim measure ahead of Sir Christopher Kelly s report, the PMS said that the Kelly report was about the system of allowances, while today s statement was about putting in place the Government structures around that.

Asked when outside members would be appointed to the National Democratic Renewal Council (NDRC) the PMS said that the NDRC was an internal Government process and a means by which the Government would take forward its agenda. We were not suggesting that this body was the source of all wisdom, or that it was exclusive, but it was important that the Government was able to bring together its position on a range of these issues, and could then consult through other means with outside experts, the public, opposition parties or whoever.

The PMS said that, like the National Economic Council, the NDRC did not have outside members. How Government engaged with other parties, experts, or the wider public, was a different point and one on which we hoped to say more on in the next week or so.

Asked about Vernon Bogdanor s role, the PMS said that there were a number of people to whom the Government spoke to informally, but that he had no formal position.

original source.

Briefing took place at 11:00 | Search for related news

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