Sunday, January 25, 2009

The House of Lords

Too busy to say much today, but if this story about peers taking cash from anyone hoping to influence legislation (and if it's even half-true the only question we need to ask is 'how high a cliff should they be thrown over') has reminded me just how quiet everybody (including yours truly) is about reform of the House of Lords.
  • Who - exactly should they represent? (By this, I mean should they have constituencies / regions?)
  • How should they be elected? What voting system? And are indirect elections necessarily a no-no? (Councillors could select them?)
  • How should candidates be selected by parties?
  • Is there a democratically acceptable mechanism that would either force political parties to select candidates to reflect their internal diversity - or even to encourage non-party candidates?
  • When should the elections be - and how often?
  • What role should a reformed Lords play? What powers should they have?
  • What relationship should they have with regional assemblies, local government and the EU?
  • What sort of allowance / facilities should they be given?
  • What sort of people are likely to make such a structure work?
And most importantly, how do you get people who will have some of their powers supplanted by these people to vote for anything that you or I would find acceptable? And by this, I don't just mean the House of Commons - I also mean the Cabinet and the PM's office.

I dunno about you, but this seems to be a huge issue, but no-one is talking about it.

Oh a follow up question? Are you surprised that this story has come out today? I'm not - I'm only surprised that it didn't appear sooner.


The Plump said...

One other question - why should they be referred to as the House of Lords?

The idea that there should be a representative second chamber means that they are no longer representing the aristocracy.

Lords and Commons are anachronistic names - time to get rid of both.

Victor Emmanuel III said...

The House of Lords, by definition, is a corrupting chamber, serving the interests of the powerful and unseen to undermine democracy. Perhaps, these Labour peers are not very practised at taking backhanders or maybe they are not discriminating enough, too democratic, in who they are prepared to take money from.

I think the House of Lords should just be got rid of, abolished. New Zealand has no upper house, democratically elected or otherwise, and they don't seem to be suffering. Do we dare we trust our own judgement and be governed by the people we chose to elect or are we such a bunch of pathetic masochists that we need to be ordered around by kinkily dressed Lords and Ladies who just somehow know they are better than us commoners?