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Time for radical

Brown has promised reform to the expenses system for MPs. Cameron thinks there should be fewer MPs. Whoopee do.

Nothing less than an 1832-style Great Reform Act will do for a Parliament that is unrepresentative, toothless and embarrassing. Here are ten things that must happen if democracy in the UK is to be deepened.

1) The Freedom of Information Act that exposed the lavish lifestyles of our representatives needs to be strengthened. Just what is the nature of this country's military relationship with Saudi Arabia? The government isn't letting us know, quashing all attempts by journalists to dig deeper into murky arms deals with one of the most vile regimes on the planet. A stronger FOI bill should cast light on such matters.

2) There needs to be an electoral system for general elections that is fair. A government that secures 55% of the seats in Parliament despite winning support from barely 1/5 of the electorate lacks all credibility.

3) No country can call itself a democracy if its lawmakers are not elected. Yet one half of Parliament - the House of Lords - is anathema to representative politics. Let's have an elected House of Lords that represents the regions of the United Kingdom - call it a Senate if you like.

4) Further devolution to the English regions will end the West Lothian Question of what to do about Scottish MPs voting on English only matters. It is only right that those new powers enjoyed by the Scots and Welsh, through their gleaming parliament and assembly, should also be afforded to voters in Cornwall and Cumbria.

5) Why not fixed term Parliaments of four years, with no in-built advantage for the prime minister to decide when to call an election?

6) Strip the monarch of political roles - why should they be the one to sign a bill into law or open our Parliament? Why not a front line nurse or soldier? Such a move could allow the current Queen to concentrate on all the other pointless things she does. On second thoughts, let's just abolish the monarchy! Now we're talking.

7) The select committee system in the House of Commons is supposed to scrutinise the work of the government. It has to be given greater resources and rights of legal subpoena to call witnesses, including government ministers. Only non-governmental MPs should be allowed to vote on who sits on the committees and party whips must have no say at all on who chairs them.

8) Okay Mr Cameron, you can have your fewer MPs and Mr Brown, go ahead and sort out expenses. Perhaps you could ban all expenses. Aditya Chakrabortty has suggested linking MPs' wages to average earnings. That way they would have an economic incentive (just in case a moral one was not enough) to "improving the lot of voters".

9) Have a Supreme Court that can strike down acts of Parliament that interfere with civil liberties.

10) Finally and most importantly, let's have a codified constitution, which limits the power of the executive, which entrenches the rights of citizens, that clearly explains how our political system works, and that is taught to all school children. How might we write such a thing? Maybe a piece of paper could be sent to all households, and the people could have a go.

Looking after chickens

How much for the rug?