Brown seeks to win back public's trust with war guidelines

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Gordon Brown wants to prevent a repeat of the mistakes made in the Iraq conflict by giving Parliament and the Cabinet more power and the public more information before the country goes to war.

Gordon Brown wants to prevent a repeat of the mistakes made in the Iraq conflict by giving Parliament and the Cabinet more power and the public more information before the country goes to war.

The Chancellor is worried about the public's loss of trust in politicians and is drawing up proposals to restore it. His ideas include the creation of an elected House of Lords.

Friends of Mr Brown deny that his plans are an attack on Tony Blair. But the Chancellor's proposals on military action are bound to be seen as a criticism of the Prime Minister's actions on Iraq.

It is understood that Mr Brown would like the legal advice on going to war to be published so that MPs and the public know the basis on which military action was being taken. The Government has repeatedly refused to disclose the full advice from Lord Goldsmith, the Attorney General, in the approach to the Iraq conflict.

In Brown's Britain, a book about Mr Brown by Robert Peston, which will be published tomorrow, the collapse of trust in politicians is outlined as one of the Chancellor's main preoccupations.

The book says: "His agonising stems in part from the implicit criticism of Blair in his private analysis - which is that the recent collapse in the public's trust in the Prime Minister is directly linked to a widespread view that this government, and perhaps any government, will ride roughshod over the UK's sprawling constitution as and when it suits.

"This widespread cynicism, in Brown's view, was reinforced by the perception that inadequate information was provided by the Government to public and parliament, in the build up to war with Iraq, and that neither parliament nor Cabinet were consulted properly on the decision to go to war."

Although the cabinet ministers Jack Straw and Robin Cook insisted on a Commons vote before the Iraq war, there is no obligation for a prime minister to have one.

According to Peston's book, Mr Brown may call for the UK to codify the "many and disparate elements of its constitution" in a comprehensible statement similar to a written constitution. Friends say Mr Brown believes his decision in 1997 to transfer decisions on interest rates to the Bank of England, which won Labour trust on the economy, now needs to be matched by action to restore trust in politics generally.

After criticism of Mr Blair's "sofa government," with crucial decisions taken by small groups in the Prime Minister's study, the Chancellor wants to strengthen the formal role of cabinet committees. While Mr Blair has retained an appointed House of Lords, Mr Brown wants to make it more democratic. "He wants an elected second chamber," one Brown adviser told The Independent.

Peston writes: "Brown has now set himself up as the official opposition to Blair within the very heart of the Cabinet."

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