- Wessex Regionalists welcome the extension of human rights legislation designed to protect individuals against the State. However, the Government’s Freedom of Information Act is weak. It allows ministers to withhold information without explanation. The Act must be amended to define in advance what categories of information may be withheld.
- Structures for complaining against the State are fragmented and operate to different standards. There are separate Parliamentary, local government and health service ombudsmen and a Police Complaints Authority, only partly independent of the police. These arrangements need to be rationalised. We propose a reform of the traditional office of sheriff to encompass the ‘ombudsman’ role.
- The Church of England should be disestablished. This would end the privileges it enjoys and Government interference in its affairs.
- The Monarchy should no longer have a formal legislative, executive or judicial role, though the royal family could continue in a ceremonial capacity.
A regionalist government in Wessex will:
- extend the range of information available under the Freedom of Information Act
- establish a non-political and wide-ranging Human Rights Commission, replacing the Commission for Racial Equality and the Equal Opportunities Commission, to address all issues of arbitrary disadvantage
- reform the office of sheriff, limiting it to those with administrative or legal qualifications and experience, and including within its duties the investigation of complaints by members of the public against any public body operating in the county
- seek the disestablishment of the Church of England.
Meanwhile, the Wessex Regionalists will:
- seek to make local government more open and accountable through codes of conduct on access to information and by opposing secret decision-making.