Parliament has been castrated, says Clegg

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Parliament has been castrated and is virtually powerless to influence government decisions, Nick Clegg, the Liberal Democrat leader, has declared.

Writing in The Independent about "the sclerosis" in British politics, Mr Clegg points out that the Labour Government has suffered three defeats in 11 years – one of them over whether MPs should go home early.

"That is the record of a system in crisis, in which the legislature dances to the tune of the executive," he says. "It is a spineless abdication of scrutiny ... at the heart of our government. The mother of all parliaments has become the eunuch of all parliaments."

Mr Clegg argues that the controversy over the outdated system of MPs' expenses gives politicians an opportunity to regain public trust. "We currently have a political class that doesn't demonstrate any capacity or willingness for change: the pay and expenses crisis has brought this into sharp focus," he says.

He warns: "In ten years' time we will look back at this moment and either see it as the beginning of a real, vital transformation in our politics, or a missed opportunity that killed off public faith in politics for a generation or more."