Report one
※Commons Call for Democracy Commision
to Tackle Civic Crisis※

A Report by PASC-The House of Commons Public Administration Select Committee-today calls for the establishment of a Democracy Commission to combat the crisis in public participation in government. PASC points to the record low turnout in June's General Election-just 59 per cent.-as evidence of widespread "civic disengagement".

Other forms of public consultation-including the Government's polling by the People's Panel-are also seen by the Committee as failing to increase citizens' involvement in decision-making.

The comments come as part of the Committee's follow-up to its April 2001 Report on Public Participation, to which the Government has now replied. The Government Response is also included in the Report.

The Committee says:
"Not since the extension of the suffrage in 1918 has there been such a low level of participation in the electoral process. The reasons for it may be debated, but not its seriousness for our democracy. We find it extraordinary that this collapse in electoral participation, put alongside other evidence on civic disengagement, has not been treated as a civic crisis demanding an appropriate response. Political life has simply continued as if nothing has happened. We believe that a Democracy Commission should be established as a matter of urgency to consider how this crisis can be responded to constructively and with imagination, and we believe that our Report makes a contribution to this process."

The Committee continues:
"These subjects are vitally important to the proper functioning of democracy, and we will be returning to them shortly. We will be seeking oral evidence from a Minister on the Government Response, so that we can be reassured that the Government is tackling the issue of public participation with the seriousness and urgency that are required." cont.../ NOTE 1. On 5 April 2001 the Committee published its Sixth Report of Session 2000-01, entitled Public Participation: Issues and Innovations (HC 373-I). The Government has now responded, and the new Report (First Report HC 334) contains that Response as well as further comments from the Committee.

1. On 5 April 2001 the Committee published its Sixth Report of Session 2000-01, entitled Public Participation: Issues and Innovations (HC 373-I). The Government has now responded, and the new Report (First Report HC 334) contains that Response as well as further comments from the Committee.

Enquiries about the work of the Committee:

Public Administration Committee,
House of Commons,
London SW1A 0AA

Telephone: 020-7219 3284
Fax: 020-7219 6864

E-mail: pubadmincom@parliament.uk

©Parliamentary copyright 2001 Last updated: 6 November 2001

Report two
Updated Proposals for Political Websites Accreditation

Updated Proposals for Political Websites Accreditation

A company Limited by Guarantee

Originators of Impartial Election Educational Websites


Richard A Bellamy
Executive Secretary
Electoral Education Ltd
P.O.BOX 413
Grimsby DN34 5WU

To be submitted to

The e-Envoy
The Electoral Commission
House of Commons Public Administration Select Committee
The Hansard Society
HMSO 每 Copyright Issues

October 2002

Current Situation
The Internet has arrived with all its imperfections and benefits, whatever is thought about it ※It is not going to go away§ therefore we have to decide how we can best turn its existence into a useful tool.
One obvious use is in the political arena to communicate with and educate the electorate in a way unthought-of in the past
If it is to be used effectively many issues need to be addressed as Laws and Regulations concerning its best use are lagging behind.
Issues such as Copyright Issues and Candidates expenses need to be addressed.
Dr Stephen Coleman leader of the Hansard Society e-democracy programme reported on the US 2001 elections in ※What Was New? Online Innovations in the 2000 US elections§.
In this he addresses many issues regarding web sites their use and misuse. Bogus web sites and the large number of US sites generally were mentioned. The large number of spoof sites was mentioned with sites apparently supporting one candidate but effectively undermining them
In the UK we have, as yet comparatively few election websites and now is the time to see if a form of order can be achieved, if we are to guide people to what information is prime and which has been ※tuned§ to an opinion or view.

Any electoral website should apply to have an ※Accreditation§ to allow the electorate to see sites that are impartial, general or with view of a political party.

Categories could be
1) Political Party showing allegiance.
2) Specialist views i.e. ※Yes§ or NO§ Cross Party in the Euro Referendum
3) General 每 for Newspapers etc.,
4) Impartial Information and Educational Controlled Sites.

Each Category would have its own ※Seal of Accreditation§ stating the intended aim of each site.

If a site contravenes it*s Accreditation its ※Seal§ would automatically disappear and could be replaced with a different Seal or a red X showing this is not accredited.

The different Accreditations could have different parameters with a very high standard of supervision being required of Impartial Sites, which could include premoderation of Chat Rooms, Discussion Boards and Audio, & video content and post moderation for the rest of the site.

Benefits 每 To Electorate and Country
A potential Voter would have a better opportunity to assess the veracity of the information included enabling a better understanding of the issues from impartial and party political points of view.
To encourage more people to be less cynical about the political system as they would have, with the Impartial Site a more accurate balanced view of issues.
Impartial accreditation would be helpful to give Returning Officers more confidence to co-operate with the site.
The use of Impartial website accreditation could assist the educational establishment by allowing access to information for instance for the National Curriculum 每 Citizenship without being accused of political bias.
The use of accreditation could be used to stop abuse of UK domain names by Code of Practice or legislation stating that any political website should be accredited and if it were not so, Nominet would withdraw the domain.

Benefits 每 To Website owner
It might be possible to arrange certain advantages for being accredited such as
1) Permission to include items from other sites that would otherwise be under copyright. I.e. Her Majesty*s Stationary Office.
2) Being Accredited as Impartial could confer rights to advance access to information under the control of the Returning Officer, to allow site preparation. The launch of that site / information is at the agreement of the Returning Officer.
3) By being Accredited might confirm the position i.e. as Newspapers to be able to add information from the candidates that was officially accepted as NOT being part of their election expenses.

Who should issue and monitor the accreditation
It is important that the Accrediting authority should be seen to be impartial. Control of this might be held by the Electoral Commission, who might then delegate its powers to an organisation such as the Hansard Society or the new impartial Electoral Education Ltd.