04 December 2006

Rock da House

House of Lords reform. People talk about this one a lot. Here are my thoughts - not checked if anyone has come to the same conclusion.

1. It's good having the House of Lords because it adds value. Bills amended by the Lords generally end up better than if they hadn't been.
2. An appointed Lords is undemocratic.
3. A directly elected Lords would be too like the Commons and therefore lose its value.
4. A mixture of the two would satisfy no-one, and the elected peers might consider themselves more legitimate than the appointed ones.

So what to do? Ensure that peers have been democratically elected at some point, but make the Lords arms-length and different enough to the Commons so that it continues to add value.

You could do this by giving MPs the opportunity to leave the Commons and sit in the Lords, subject to the following provisos:
1. An MP would need to have served at least six years.
2. A peer would serve one term of somewhere between ten and twenty years. (I'm not sure of the turnover of MPs - this would need to be worked out to ensure that the Lords wasn't too big or too small).
3. Anything that would disqualify you from being an MP would also disqualify you from being a peer (except being a peer).

Advantages:
1. Peers would have been democratically elected and re-elected.
2. Peers would have a degree of experience and seniority appropriate to the role.
3. Experienced MPs who still have a lot to give, but are less willing/able to deal with the demands of being an MP, would still be able to contribute. This would benefit both the MP and his/her constituents.
4. The Commons would have less dead wood.
5. Because it wouldn't be possible to seek re-election, peers would be far less tied to the party line and the value-add of the Lords should be preserved.

Disadvantages:
1. It still might be too like the Commons.
2. It would 100% consist of politicians, whereas some of the most useful current contributions are made by non-politicians.

Discuss...

IMR (not PT)

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

The only reason Houes Of Lords worked, and worked unimaginably well, for centuries was for some very simple reasons.

1) No-one was appointed so owed no-one any favours.
2) They were in the main rich enough so didn't have to rely on being paid.
3) Acted in their capacity as a genuine act of service to the people.
4) While they were affiliated to certain parties, in the maon they could vote as they liked and did not have to fear being deselected.

There is no way for this to be re-enacted short of re=establishing the HoL as it was.

Labour tossers and morons can't have it both ways with the HoL:they can either have one that works and is proven to work fabulously, and shut their stupid mouths over the ideology of class envy, or they can have one that at best is a pale shadow but is democratic.

I'm sorry to say that is it.

Tom Paine said...

I blogged here about a possible solution. However, that was in the old days when I still believed in the United Kingdom. Maybe an English variant could have a Senate composed of the Chairmen of County and City Councils, the current Law Lords (suitably redesignated), etc.?

Voyager said...

3. A directly elected Lords would be too like the Commons and therefore lose its value.

The US Senate has managed since 1913 to be elected.............

Perhaps you should read Earl Grey's Preamble to the 1911 Parliament Act - one of the few Bills ever to have had a Preamble

If it is possible to elect a European Parliament it is possible to elect a Second Chamber. The trouble is that under Democracy both hOuses are supposed to conflict - it is called Checks & Balances - but under British Adminstrative Democracy the policy is Gleichschaltung where all levels are supposed to obey and conform.

Britain is not a Democracy but an Elective Dictatorship with no restraining power on an Executive.

If Germany has a Budget blocked in the Bundesrat the matter goes to a Committee of both Houses to be resolved.............but the British cannot conceive of anything but electing Dictators to rule by Decree (Statutory Instrument) for 5 year terms.

It is a mark of how shrivelled British understanding has become that they mouth such inanities as all Chambers must agree and Objection is Obstructionism

Anonymous said...

When I blogged on this topic, I came up with The lords becoming self-selecting.

Whatever the government decides it will inevitably make things worse.

http://brackenworld.blogspot.com/2006/03/red-benches.html

Anonymous said...

Like a few people above, I too have blogged on this topic in the past. Like many others, I think it would be great to see the Lords back to being hereditary.

Alas, that probably won't happen. Directly elected by county would probably be the best option, though a mixture of hereditary, appointed and elected peers may also be interesting-in concept, at least.

Anonymous said...

I think the HoL should be fully elected, but serve longer terms. Maybe 10 years at a time, with half the house elected every 5 years. Or maybe they should be elected and keep the seat until they choose to leave (or die).

Put an age requirement of around 45 or 50 to make sure they were more experienced.

I absolutely detest the idea of the House of Lords being hereditary AND keeping their power. Especially when people are so socially mobile.

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