British opposition promise reform after expenses row

LONDON - British opposition leader David Cameron, who opinion polls suggest could be prime minister within a year, called Tuesday for a "radical redistribution of power" in response to the expenses scandal.
In an article in the Guardian newspaper, the Conservative leader said public anger over weeks of embarrassing revelations about lawmakers' expenses claims showed a disillusionment with politics that had to be met with major reform.

"The central objective of the new politics we need should be a massive, sweeping, radical redistribution of power," from central government to local communities, the EU to Britain and government to parliament, Cameron wrote.
He also called for major constitutional changes, including giving serious consideration to introducing fixed-term parliaments that would end the prime minister's power to choose the date of an election.
The Tory leader has already reopened his party's list of candidates for the next election, which must be held by the middle of next year, and said ordinary people should stand for parliament to help reform the system.
Prime Minister Gordon Brown has demanded changes to the expenses system and an independent review is underway after leaked details showed how MPs claimed public money for everything from moat cleaning to an ornamental duck house.
But the row has also prompted calls for more fundamental change.
Health Secretary Alan Johnson, tipped as a possible successor to Brown if their Labour party loses the next election, called for reform of the voting system in an article in Monday's The Times.
"We need to overhaul the engine, not just clean the upholstery... (to) produce the radical change that the moment demands," he wrote.
In the latest revelations Tuesday, the Daily Telegraph newspaper claimed that four ministers, including Foreign Secretary David Miliband, had paid the husband of a Labour MP for tax advice using money claimed on expenses.
Dennis Bates, the husband of former minister Meg Munn, was paid more than 5,000 pounds (8,000 dollars, 5,700 euros) over several years, it said.
However, the ministers insisted the arrangement was within the rules.

Tuesday, May 26th 2009

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