How Labour is changing the state of Britain

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The Independent Online


The monarchy

"We have no plans to replace the monarchy"

Status quo

Pomp and ceremony, but Queen backs cutting pageantry.

Number of ladies-in-waiting

and attendants reduced



Government favours

"modernising" the monarchy


so far

Government supports Queen's moves to make monarchy more accessible. Advised Buckingham palace on handling the death of Diana


Conservative MPs and palace courtiers

What happens


Civil List comes up for reform in 2001

House of Lords

"The right of hereditary peers to sit and vote in the House of Lords will be ended by statute." Legislative powers of the House of Lords will remain unaltered

A second legislative chamber of hereditary peers, life peers and bishops

Forthcoming Queen's Speech will announce removal of voting and speaking rights of

hereditary peers in the next session of parliament

Two-stage reform begun to get rid of hereditary peers and establish a "more democratic and representative" legislative second chamber

Hereditary peers

Royal commission to look at next stage

Scottish devolution

"For Scotland we propose the creation of a Parliament with law- making powers"

Scotland's MPs sit at Westminster. Scottish Office responsible for framing policies for Scotland

New parliament will have

tax-raising powers and will

pass laws

Scottish referendum last year voted in favour of Edinburgh parliament

Conservatives reject "splitting up" the union

First Scottish election will take place in May 1999

Voting reform

"We are committed to a referendum on the voting system for the House of Commons"

First-past-the-post system linked to constituencies for

Westminster elections

PR for MEPS, Scottish parliament and Westminster, with different variations on the


Jenkins Commission report published last week backed

"AV-top-up" - two votes per voter for different types of MP

Conservative party; Amalgamated Engineering and Electrical Union (AEEU); backbench Labour MPs; Cabinet ministers Margaret Beckett and Jack Straw

Referendum on electoral

reform; review of electoral boundaries

Civil Service

Not mentioned

Civil servants are supposed to be politically neutral.

Most selected following

stringent entrance exams

Recruitment of more ethnic

minorities to the Foreign Office and other departments


Information officers forced out say Government has made civil service more partisan and


Recruitment campaign to

attract under-represented groups

Honours system

Not mentioned

Peerages, knighthoods, medals and other high awards traditionally for top people until John Major tried to make it classless

Blair also backing more honours for ordinary people; scrapping of Knights or Dames Grand Cross of the British Empire

Blair to give knighthoods even to low-ranking police officers who performed "outstanding acts". Head teachers who turn around problem schools will be made Sirs and Dames

Academics and traditionalists oppose "tinkering" with

honours system

Abolition of obscure historical medals. Replacement of

"empire" honours with

"commonwealth" honours