Articles

Lords Reform

In House of Lords, News on April 23, 2012 by dadge

The House of Lords doesn’t excite me very much. It’s not ideal but it seems to do its job reasonably well. It’s old-fashioned, but so’s having a Queen, and I’m not a republican. In a spirit of “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” I’m happy to let some of these some-would-say outmoded institutions keep going. After all, the alternative is usually worse.

Even if change were a good thing, the new (majority) report on Lords reform gets almost everything wrong. Firstly, the idea that we should have a referendum on this topic is absurd. At least 90% of the population couldn’t give a monkey’s – surely even a career politician can see that?

450 members? A tad on the high side. Elections only every 15 years? Not often enough. 20% appointed? Too arbitrary. 12 bishops? You’re joking. Mostly elected by PR? Er…

I agree with David Steel (who’s just been on Newsnight) and the minority report that no change should be made that damages the primacy of the House of Commons. Electing the second chamber by PR would do just that, since its members would be more representative than their counterparts down the corridor, who are elected by FPTP.

Although David Steel seems to prefer a method of indirect election in order to avoid questions of primacy, I think the American model is possibly the one we should adopt. Each county, unitary authority and metropolitan borough should elect one member (or possibly 2 in the case of very large counties like Kent) to the new chamber by first-past-the-post, while the Commons could either stay as it is, or, preferably, be elected under STV.

p.s. How about not allowing members of the upper house to be members of political parties? That’d be something…

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One Response to “Lords Reform”

  1. Having a bunch of unelected aristocrats and bishops deciding law has little appeal to me. One thing I do like about them is they have an independent streak and often upset the House of Commons by stopping badly thought out legislations dead in its tracks.

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