Sunday 22 October 2006

Reform of the House of Lords

The Sunday Times has managed to get hold of the government's latest ideas on reforming the House of Lords, here. Thanks too to Croydonian, who started my thought process on this off last week.

Overall there are many issues that it raises and few that is answers succintly. Partly this is becaue the reform is, as ever, ill-though; and partly because it is a difficult subject to address.

The overall recommendation is to have a semi-elected chamber, with a complex open list system to be used.

The document does not discuss many key points:
- An overall assesment of what our consitutional government should look like.
- Role of the Lords vs the EU.
- Appointment of professionals other than politicans to the house.
- Revision of the powers of the Upper House
- Cost to the public v. the benefit of the Upper House.
- Negative effects of abolishing life peers
- Powers of the House in Legal Affairs
- The West Lothian Question and other issues as they apply to the Lords.

Instead, there is a discussion getting regional balance, gender and racial balance correct. It seems very thin to say the least and unfailingly politically correct.

In the main the proposals are to elect some members and have term limits, with payment, which means that taxpayers will get it in the pocket. It will become another stop on the gravy train for politico's and their hangers' on.

How such a weak document, that avoids most of the main issues, can be issued as a government 'float' for reform is beyond me. It is far from lear what this reform would achieve beyond the current fudge that exists.

One point to make with my business head on is that the upper chamber desperately needs accountants and businessment rather than more lawyers to help take the government to task on its ill-thought out policies. Our country desperately needs an improvement in its financial goverance of the Government; I see nothing in this paper that recognises this as an issue at all.

I just hope that they take so long to argue over it that this government is swept from power before it can enact this 'paper' to destroy our country's historic system of goverment.


Stan Bull said...

Croydonian got me thinking on the issue as well. If I understand the “Sunday Times” report correctly, the government is going to bring forward plans whereby the upper chamber would be sharply reduced from 741 to about 450 members. Members would be limited to serving for about 12 years instead of staying for life, as most do now. Better than the current system granted but far short of what I would have hoped for.

FWIW, I feel the second chamber should be directly elected. But not by First-Past-the-Post which would produce the same political makeup as the HoC, removing the lords ability (or, indeed, wish) to take a critical look at proposed legislation.

A possible solution would be to have staggered elections (all upper house elections would not be conducted on the same day but at intervals as in the US) to a let’s say 250 – member (I am not sure about the exact number of members there should be) upper House using the Single Transferable vote (as opposed to the PR list system that is used for European Parliamentary elections in Great Britain currently). As for ensuring the supremacy of the Commons, the Parliament Act is sufficient to doing the job. It means the Upper Chamber can have a powerful scrutiny role, without overthrowing the popularly-elected, first-past-the-post Commons.

Pogo said...

One would have thought that electing a second chamber using the "single transferrable vote" system would virtually guarrantee a permanent Lib Dem chamber.

It's seemed crazy to me that for many years now the "unelected and unrepresentative" HoL has proven to be the only bastion that the populace have against the insanities of the "popularly elected" (yeah, by about 20% of the elctorate!) HoC. As far as I'm concerned the best thing that they could do would be to reinstate all the "Hereditaries"!

AntiCitizenOne said...

I'd like to see a chamber elected whereby the people get a vote in relation to how much they fund the government.

No Representation with Taxation.

One Pound of Tax, One vote.

Courtney Hamilton said...

If you ask me, the House of Lords doesn't need to be reformed - it needs to be completely abolished.

The House is an affront to the democratic tradition - I'm with the great revolutionary Englishman Tom Paine on this one - we need to remove ‘the remains of aristocratical tyranny’, at once.

Unknown said...

Ideas announced by the government that is reforming the House of Lords,it is nice idea...

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