UK promises political biggest shake-up in 178 yrs

UK promises political biggest shake-up in 178 yrs London: As part of what is billed as the 'biggest shake-up' of Britain's democracy in 178 years, the new coalition government on Wednesday promised to allow people to recall MPs, tear up laws, a fixed-term parliament and a referendum on a new system of conducting elections.

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, who is in charge of political reform in the Conservative-Liberal Democrats coalition, said the proposed reform of the political infrastructure will be the biggest since the 1832 Great Reform Act.

Clegg said: "I'm talking about the most significant programme of empowerment by a British government since the great enfranchisement of the 19th Century.

The biggest shake up of our democracy since 1832, when the Great Reform Act redrew the boundaries of British democracy, for the first time extending the franchise beyond the landed classes.

He added: "Incremental change will not do. It is time for a wholesale, big bang approach to political reform."

Accusing previous Labour governments of indulging in "obsessive lawmaking", he called upon the British public to suggest which laws they would like to get rid of.

He also promised to introduce a mechanism to block pointless new criminal offences.

Clegg's reform proposals include: Partially elected House of Lords, scrapping the ID card scheme and the national identity register, libel to be reviewed to protect freedom of speech, and limits on the rights to peaceful protest to be removed.

Clegg said: "This government is going to persuade you to put your faith in politics once again. We don't, unlike Labour, believe that change in our society must be forced from the centre.

Unlike the previous Labour government, we're not insecure about relinquishing control."

Senior Labour leader Alan Johnson accused Clegg of using "rampant hyperbole" and said: "If he wants to ask the public which laws to get rid of, he should also ask which laws they would like to keep."