Our elected representatives were not the most popular of people with our meeting, and there was much discussion about controlling them and limiting their powers. The meeting also considered ways of making MPs more responsive to the wishes of their constituents.
As before, I will explore these issues online, setting up a short essay in order to trigger the discussion.
Before entertaining the detail of this subject, though, it is worth recalling the discussion on separation of powers. Arguably, if we have a parliament wholly separate from government, its character changes and we get a different breed of parliamentarian. Some of the problems may disappear.
Nevertheless, the concern about MPs goes deep, and there was a general feeling that there should be greater restraints on their freedom of action. The expenses scandal runs deep and trust has been heavily eroded. There is little appetite for relaxed treatment.
Here, though, there is a major inconsistency between tightening controls on MPs and then expecting them, in turn, to control the government - scrutinising it and holding it account. If they cannot be trusted with their own affairs, such as expenses, how are we to trust them with weightier matters?
Inasmuch as some of us wanted also to limit the terms of individual MPs, there is another inconsistency. Politics is not for amateurs. The scrutiny of government, the vetting and approval of legislation, and other activities in a properly functioning parliament, require considerable skill and aptitude.
Thus, while there is some merit in cutting short the tenure of individuals, this conflicts with the need to allow MPs to acquire the skills and experience necessary to do their jobs effectively.
More to follow - the comments are interesting and useful, and I will build them into the second part of this essay.