News 14th April 2015

Open Government in the Conservative Manifesto

by Josephine Suherman-Bailey

Josephine was a Policy Analyst at Involve. She worked on the Open Government Partnership and supported the coordination of the UK Open Government Partnership civil society network.

We’ve been scanning through the party manifestos for policies relevant to open government. This is what we’ve found in the Conservative Manifesto. Have we missed anything?

We’ll be updating this post as suggestions come in.

Conservative Manifesto

Briefing on commitments of interest to open government reformers

Read the Conservative Party Manifesto here.


Topline messages Quote from the manifesto Page number
Open Government Partnership
Support for open government
Continued support for OGP
We will deliver better public services and more open government
Transparency has also been at the heart of our approach to government. Over the last five years, we have been open about government spending, provided access to taxpayer-funded research, pursued open data and helped establish the Open Government Partnership. We will continue to be the most transparent government in the world.We addressed public concern about the influence of money on politics, with a law that strengthened rules governing non-party campaigning and established a register of consultant lobbyists.
Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative
Push for all countries to sign up to the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative We will push for all countries to sign up to the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative 11
Devolution/ localism
Devolution of powers and budgets to local areas We will devolve far-reaching powers over economic development, transport and social care to large cities which choose to have elected mayors. We will legislate to deliver the historic deal for Greater Manchester, which will devolve powers and budgets and lead to the creation of a directly elected Mayor for Greater Manchester. In Cambridgeshire, Greater Manchester and Cheshire East, we will pilot allowing local councils to retain 100 per cent of growth in business rates, so they reap the benefit of decisions that boost growth locally. We will devolve further powers over skills spending and planning to the Mayor of London. And we will deliver more bespoke Growth Deals with local councils, where locally supported, and back Local Enterprise Partnerships to promote jobs and growth. 13
Freedom of the media
Protection for journaliststhrough a British Bill of Rights

ban the police from accessing journalists’ phone records to identify whistle-blowers and other sources without prior judicial approval

Consult on the introduction of a business rates relief for local newspapers in England.

We will continue to defend hard-won liberties and the operation of a free press… Because the work of the free press is so important we will offer explicit protection for the role of journalists via the British Bill of Rights and we will ban the police from accessing journalists’ phone records to identify whistle-blowers and other sources without prior judicial approval. Local newspapers are an important source of information for local communities and a vital part of a healthy democracy. To support them as they adapt to new technology and changing circumstances, we will consult on the introduction of a business rates relief for local newspapers in England. 42
Trade union transparency
Legislation to ensure trade unions use a transparent opt-in process for subscriptions to political parties. In the next Parliament, we will legislate to ensure trade unions use a transparent opt-in process for subscriptions to political parties. 49
Human Rights Act
Scrapping the Human Rights Act The next Conservative Government will scrap the Human Rights Act, and introduce a British Bill of Rights. This will break the formal link between British courts and the European Court of Human Rights, and make our own Supreme Court the ultimate arbiter of human rights matters in the UK. 60
Communications data
Maintain ability of authorities to access communications data (but not content of communications)
New legislation on communications data
Maintain ability of authorities to intercept the content of suspects’ communications
We will keep up to date the ability of the police and security services to access communications data – the ‘who, where, when and how’ of a communication, but not its content. Our new communications data legislation will strengthen our ability to disrupt terrorist plots, criminal networks and organised child grooming gangs, even as technology develops. We will maintain the ability of the authorities to intercept the content of suspects’ communications, while continuing to strengthen oversight of the use of these powers. 63
Restrictions on communications of those promoting violent and non-violent extremism
Potentially restrict the ability of groups promoting both violent and non-violent extremism to use the internet and social media.
Strengthen Ofcom so they can take tough measures against channels that broadcast extremist content.
Bar both violent and non-violent extremists from working with children or speaking at universities.
We have already reformed the Prevent strategy so that it focuses on non-violent as well as violent extremism. We will now go even further. We will outlaw groups that foment hate with the introduction of new Banning Orders for extremist organisations. These could be applied to dangerous organisations that fall short of the existing thresholds for proscription under terrorism legislation. To restrict the harmful activities of extremist individuals, we will create new Extremism Disruption Orders. These new powers might, for instance, prevent those who are seeking to radicalise young British people online from using the internet or communicating via social media. We will develop a strategy to tackle the infiltration of extremists into our schools and public services. We will strengthen Ofcom’s role so that tough measures can be taken against channels that broadcast extremist content. We will enable employers to check whether an individual is an extremist and bar them from working with children. And we will take further measures to ensure colleges and universities do not give a platform to extremist speakers. 63
English Votes for English Laws
Give English MPs a veto over matters only affecting England We will maintain the integrity of the UK Parliament by ensuring that MPs from all parts of the UK continue to deliberate and vote together, including to set overall spending levels. But we will:

  • change parliamentary procedures so that the detail of legislation affecting only England or England and Wales will be considered by a Committee drawn in proportion to party strength in England or England and Wales.
  • add a new stage to how English legislation is passed; no bill or part of a bill relating only to England would be able to pass to its Third Reading and become law without being approved through a legislative consent motion by a Grand Committee made up of all English MPs, or all English and Welsh MPs.
  • extend the principle of English consent to financial matters such as how spending is distributed within England and to taxation – including an English rate of Income Tax – when the equivalent decisions have been devolved to Scotland.
Devolution to Scotland and Wales
Significant devolution to Scotland A new Scotland Bill will be in our first Queen’s Speech and will be introduced in the first session of a new Parliament. We will implement the recommendations of the Smith Commission so that more than 50 per cent of the Scottish Parliament’s budget will be funded from revenues raised in Scotland and it will have significant new welfare powers to complement existing devolved powers in health and social care. We will provide the Scottish Parliament with one of the most extensive packages of tax and spending powers of any devolved legislature in the world. We will retain the Barnett Formula as the basis for determining the grant to cover that part of the Scottish Parliament’s budget not funded by tax revenues raised in Scotland. We will agree new rules with the Scottish Government for how the block grant will be adjusted, to take account of the new devolved tax and welfare powers. And we will ensure that where responsibility for taxation has been devolved, tax changes only affect public spending in that part of the country. 70
Devolution to Wales We will clarify the division of powers between Wales and the UK Government. We will: devolve to the Welsh Assembly control over its own affairs – including the Assembly name, size and electoral system, Assembly elections and voting age. implement other recommendations of the second Silk Report where there is all-party support as set out in the St David’s Day Agreement; this will include devolving to the Welsh Assembly important economic powers over ports and energy consents. introduce a new Wales Bill if these changes require legislation. continue to reserve policing and justice as matters for the UK Parliament. introduce a ‘funding floor’ to protect Welsh relative funding and provide certainty for the Welsh Government to plan for the future, once it has called a referendum on Income Tax powers in the next Parliament. make the Welsh Government responsible for raising more of the money it spends so the Welsh people can hold their politicians to account. 70