The upper house is not broken and doesn't therefore need fixing. Any attempt to turn into an elected representative body will require major changes to the existing constitutional arrangements or risk setting the Commons & Lords on a collision course.
There is no democratic clamour for change - just a few political anoraks who see the British constitution as an elaborate board game that they can tinker with and then put all the pieces back in the box, rather than a complex interaction of competing and balancing forces that have evolved over centuries.
Britain is almost the only country in the world that has enjoyed quiet evolution of political and constitutional processes over such a long period. No revolutions, no civil wars, no invaders, no history of bloody massacres and tribal strife sunce the 17th century. For this we should be grateful but the anoraks seem to believe an evolved constitution is shameful a d that we need to "modernise" and be "progressive". Why?
> Personally I'm not in favour of an elected second
> chamber, but MM can you explain what an "evolved
> constitution" is, if it isn't one that keeps
It's my term - and I meant it to mean gradual, small, minor, tinkerings rather than a wholesale re-writing / initiation brought about by an abrupt change of circumstances such as revolution, invasion etc etc. Each change being incremental such that only, over a long time, does the difference between the constitution of 1650 differ substantially from that of 1750, 1850, 1950 and, I hope, 2050.
Edited 1 time(s). Last edit was 2012:02:28:17:47:46 by Marmora Man.
I care about it, but other than the exclusion of herditary peers and the church, I can't see much of an alternative to the current set up.
It's supposed to act as a check/balance on elected parliament, an idea I wholeheartedly agree with.
If it were elected, and were elected at the same time as the Commons, then it would simply reflect the same political composition as the Commons and so couldn't perform that task.
If it were elected at a different time, then the composition would change, resulting in whichever House were elected more recently to have more 'legitimacy' than the other - because it more closely reflected the current views of the electorate.
This would result in a flip/flop of power on a two year cycle - which is really too short to research, define, implement and optimise government policy.
It seems a House of state elders with a long and celebrated career behind them, without fear of the ballot box or the party whip, are ideally placed to chuck back at the Commons knee jerk policies that are full of crap.
What is amazing is how well it works. Certainly exclude "criminals" (Lord Archer springs to mind) when you get rid of hereditary and the church votes. Would an elected house always mirror the commons? In the USA it doesn't because the tenure is different: 2 years for the House and 6 for the Senate so they get elected in different political climates. Also it goes back to the AV campaign a few months back. What's voted for is the Party and not the Person. I'd like to "split" votes and vote the person within the party perhaps but the nuanced person.
I'm inclined to agree with H and MM that by and large it does the job required of it.
I'm not even that fussed about the church being there which is still representative of a portion of the population and it's moral basis, and morality isn't a terrible thing to consider when law making. The numbers should be reduced though.
Maybe one bishop, an imam, a guru and a jedi or something.
I too think life peerages should go, but as MM says this should be tinkering, not throwing out the baby with the bath water.
Itís a very useful and sensible institution. The hereditary peers business is a pointless hangover form a bygone age that will die out naturally. The biggest challenge is ridding it of party political interference. It really should only work independently for the good of society and not at behest of whatever interest groups control the party its members were vomited from.
I agree with what Brendan says, if it's House of Commons mk 2 it'll be appalling. How about NO ex-MPS allowed in, half of the house elected areas of specialist knowledge/experience (which it is useful for) elected by their peer group/associations -say legal/medical/academic/maybe even journalist/etc; the other a reasonably representative sample of the general population, paid....and NOT politicians