Thursday, March 08, 2007

Oh Lordy!

When I first heard that they were going to reform the Lords my response was,"Wow I didn't realise that the Finnish monster rock gods had split up!"After receiving a severe slapping for my foolishness I realised that it was a reference to the reform of the House of Lords and the vote by the Commons for an elected Lords. As I have been commenting on several other sites about my opinion for the new improved Lords I have decided to summarise what should be done to preserve the independence of the Lords whilst democratising the chamber.
  • Single term limits. This ensures that the members of the Lords are not dependent upon their party hierarchies for constant re-selection and re-election. They would also under little pressure to put what is popular ahead of what they believe is right.
  • Long but fixed terms of between ten and fifteen years. If there is no re-election then long terms are useful for enticing talented people to round off their working lives in politics. The slow nature of change would mean that it would reflect long term public opinion whilst the Commons is more immediate.
  • Elections are staggered. So the House is less susceptible to short run swings in the nation's mood.
  • It has real power to delay all but financial bills for as long as it takes.
  • A lower age limit of around 45 or 50, this is so it becomes a chamber where experienced people enter to culminate a career, not a chamber where the members are all vying for promotion to a higher level.
  • Party Memberships must be suspended once elected. Whilst they will still form de facto groupings they will have fewer obligations to outside forces.
Whilst the current House of Lords does its job well, and most observers find it to be more impressive than the Commons in terms of intelligent discussion of the ramifications of what they must vote upon, it will never have the legitimacy to challenge the House of Commons with it's legion of whipped drones unless each and every member can justify their right to check the government with a democratic mandate of their own.

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