Cameron pledges to cut power of the PM

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Indy Politics

David Cameron today pledges a "massive, sweeping, radical redistribution of power" from state to citizens in a drive to rebuild public trust in politics.

He commits a Tory government to considering the case for fixed-term parliaments to stop Downing Street choosing election dates.

He also promises to reduce the prime minister's power, give more free votes to backbenchers and to allow MPs to select the chairs of Commons select committees which scrutinise the government. Councils would also get new powers to reverse unpopular Whitehall decisions under the reform drive to be spelt out by the Tory leader in a major speech today.

Writing in The Guardian, he says: "We must take power away from the political elite and hand it to the man and woman in the street."

With constitutional reform moving up the political agenda following the expenses scandal, a second cabinet minister has urged Gordon Brown to hold a referendum on changing the voting system. John Denham said designing a system in which "every vote counts" would help repair the damage.

His call came after Alan Johnson, the Health Secretary, argued that the issue should be put to the vote at the next election.

Mr Denham, the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills, told The Independent: "One of the ways we can reconnect politicians with the voters is to increase the power of the voters. Letting people choose the electoral system would be a huge step forward. The background ... is the need to look for ways of re-establishing better trust between the voters and the political system. Because of that, it takes on added potency and urgency."

Up to 100 Labour MPs could back the referendum plan. Enthusiasts for proportional representation plan a Commons motion next week.