Tuesday, May 01, 2018

The House of Lords

Looking back at the blog archive, I don't appear to have ever posted about what I think should happen with the House of Lords. So...

I'm inclined to think that the House of Lords has now gone beyond the point where it cannot be meaningfully reformed; it needs to be replaced entirely. I'm also persuaded of the argument that simply having it be elected in the same manner as the House of Commons is a bad idea - partly because that leaves us subject to the same broken duopoly that has subverted our democracy, partly because it's better if only the HoC has the legitimacy of the democratic mandate (so that a conflict can be clearly resolved), and partly because of the purpose of an upper chamber: the scrutinise and revise laws.

The thing is, to get the best scrutiny for laws, your ideal body is not, in fact, one constructed via a popularity contest. Rather, you're better off with a body comprised of subject matter experts.

Therefore, I would propose replacing the Lords with a 300-member Senate. Every 5 years, 100 of those members would be nominated for a single 15-year term (a different third each time, such that once 15 years have passed all the members have been replaced). As noted, once an individual has served a single term, they cannot be nominated again.

The nominations, meanwhile, should be divided among appropriate bodies: the various political parties should each nominate some (based on their proportions in the Commons); the Scottish, Welsh, and Northern Ireland governments should each nominate some (with a further group nominated by the PM to represent England, unless and until an English assembly is convened); the universities could nominate some, the NHS, the Armed Forces, the business community... and so on. The idea is to get a wide range of experts from across the nation so that they can provide expert input and proper scrutiny.

(Needless to say, I haven't thrashed out all the bugs. But that's the broad outline of the idea. Not that I think it matters anyway - we've been talking about House of Lords reform for at least a century, and the only changes we've managed to make have been to make it even worse. There's about as much chance of proper reform as there is of federalism. That is, none.)

#18: "Dangerous Women", edited by George R.R. Martin and Gardner Dozois

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