What, in your view, should an in-coming government do as soon as possible?

November 15, 1996

Albert Weale

Professor of government, University of Essex

Review pensions and think whether to shift from a pay-as-you-go system to a more funded one. Restore local government and move towards earmarked taxation, particularly in health and education. Reduce the 30-year rule for access to public documents to 20 years. And introduce proportional representation."

Martin Holmes

Lecturer in politics, St Hugh's College, Oxford

"Rule out a single currency which doesn't require legislation - and amend section two of the 1972 act whereby Britain joined the European Community. This states that if there is a conflict between British law and EC law, EC law has supremacy. That should be amended to give supremacy to British law.

"Reform the welfare state. The model we have now is a 1940s model geared to replenishing our population stock after two world wars. It needs to shift to reflect demographic changes in Britain: more spending on the elderly rather than subsidies for people to have children. Having children is a lifestyle choice which the state shouldn't subsidise".

Andrew Gamble Head of politics, Sheffield University "Establish a Scottish Parliament; hold a referendum on electoral reform; and change the rules on inheritance taxation to allow for the introduction of a capital receipts tax, hypothecated for education and training".

Philip Norton

Professor of government, University of Hull

"Change the processes of government. I would like special standing committees that could take evidence from interested parties when they are considering legislation, combined with automatic timetabling of bills, so that each part of an act will have been considered by Parliament.

"Get rid of the sessional cut-off - the process by which at the end of each parliamentary year bills fall if they are not passed. Bills go off to committee at the same time, which puts a tremendous strain on resources; then they have got to be rushed through quickly so as to get to the Lords before the summer recess. If bills could carry over from one session to another, their introduction could be staggered and committees could have time to take evidence before going through them clause by clause. Automatic timetabling would do away for the need for guillotine measures.

Richard Kuper Senior lecturer in politics, University of Hertfordshire

"Implement a national wage, and redress the balance of power within industry, which has so weakened trade unions. Make a commitment to a redistributive tax system and initiate widespread constitutional reform, including immediate steps towards assemblies in Scotland, Wales and England. Support a referendum on electoral reform; abolish the internal market in the NHS; improve the condition of prisons, which are nothing short of scandalous; abolish foxhunting; and improve the funding of sport."

Elizabeth Meehan Professor of economic and social science, Queen's University, Belfast

"I'd like commitments to questions of rights and constitutional issues to have a greater importance. I think part of people's cynicism about politics is not necessarily to do with politicians' personal morality, but to do with whether institutions are open and democratic - people never think they have a chance to get their voices heard. Northern Ireland is a delicate issue, but in Scotland and Wales there is not much division of opinion about what the desired constitutional reforms should be''.

John Barnes Lecturer in government, LSE

"Sort out higher education finance in order to free up more money for primary schools. Gordon Brown would have to find some more cash - perhaps there is further room for defence cuts, particularly in the navy.

"Decide what to do about GP fundholding; redescribe the relations between provider and supplier. Review how to get people out of jail I which kinds of criminals and on what grounds - as there is no way money should be spent on a prison building programme."

Additional reporting by John Davies

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