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House of Lords reform Debate thread...

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    this is the thread were discussions about the house of lords reform will take place.

    Personally I think a better system will be where experts will be called to witness in front of the nation to express their opinions and views, the last thing we need is a house of commons MK2!
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    Thoughts and opinions Welcome!!!!
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    I quite like the current reform plans, non-renewable 15 year terms, elected in thirds, etc.

    On experts. You can't really call the current House of Lords a place of cutting edge expertise. Ok they're all very intelligent and have had lives in science, politics and big business. The key word there is 'had'. They were leaders in industry or science. Obviously some still are, but not that many. So any argument by expertise isn't that strong. I'd rather have an elected chamber of slightly less intelligent and experienced people than a non elected chamber full of the UK's top boffins and FTSE 100 company bosses.
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    What're the current reform plans?

    Get rid of the ****ing thing. It's anti-democratic. It's not even meritocratic, it's plutocratic. You're rich? Have a say, and get paid while you do it!
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    Nick's plans do not gar far enough in my view.

    I'd prefer a 100% Elected Chamber and the bishops removed
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    Don't see the point in an elected House of Lords, they don't have any real power anymore, only really as an advisory body, and their position as permanent means that they can speak their mind without fear of the party whip.

    If they are elected, I can see a bit of a constitutional crisis happening. What would make the Commons more legitimate as the main chamber if they are both elected?
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    Prefer it to stay as it is.
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    I support an elected chamber in principle, BUT PLEASE NO MORE PARTY POLITICS!

    If it is elected, then make it so there are no political parties in the second chamber or we will just have two chambers that are pretty much the same.

    I also quite like the idea of having experts though- people who will hopefully be able to offer a non-partisan and informed view on proposals of the government.

    How would we elect a second chamber which doesn't have political parties? Not sure, don't have enough brain power at the moment to answer that.
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    I'm fundamentally opposed to electing the House of Lords. Doing so defeats the very purpose of the Upper House.

    (Original post by Claphamski)
    I quite like the current reform plans, non-renewable 15 year terms, elected in thirds, etc.
    Considering one of the main criticisms of the Lords is that they are unaccountable for their actions, I don't see how single 15-year terms remedies that problem.

    On experts. You can't really call the current House of Lords a place of cutting edge expertise. Ok they're all very intelligent and have had lives in science, politics and big business. The key word there is 'had'. They were leaders in industry or science. Obviously some still are, but not that many. So any argument by expertise isn't that strong. I'd rather have an elected chamber of slightly less intelligent and experienced people than a non elected chamber full of the UK's top boffins and FTSE 100 company bosses.
    I have to disagree; the Lords is still a huge repository of expertise. You make a reasonable point, however, that some of them are quite old, but then there are a fair number of octogenarian peers who take pride in keeping up to speed in their fields.

    An elected chamber wouldn't make them slightly less intelligent or less experienced; it would undermine its expertise role enormously. Moreover, it's not simply about being experts; it's about the skills derived from being in those fields, too - such as research or business.

    Finally, having two elected chambers representing the same thing just doesn't make sense. The reason why the Commons is able to override the Lords is because it is the sole elected chamber of Parliament; if the Lords are elected then that basis disappears.
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    (Original post by Harolinho)
    What're the current reform plans?
    We have yet to see the Bill (and they're largely to be changed a lot by Parliament), but currently single, 15-year terms for 80%, with 20% appointed, and 12 Church of England members.

    Get rid of the ****ing thing. It's anti-democratic.
    No it's not. That's like saying the judiciary is anti-democratic because it's appointed.

    It's not even meritocratic,
    It's a darn sight more meritocratic than election.

    it's autocratic.
    How? The Lords can only delay legislation and rely on persuading the Commons rather than bullying it into submission.

    You're rich? Have a say, and get paid while you do it!
    The majority of Lords deserve to be there for being good at what they do, but you are correct to point out a running sore in the appoints system of the House of Lords. But election is simply not the answer; reforming the appointments system is.
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    The House of Lords is a classic example of an area of policy in which political anoraks and commentators get excited about, but that such excitement is not shared amongst the majority.

    That aside, the issue of the House of Lords, can be summed up in a single question.What would you rather, an elected House dominated by the Party machine and the whims of the executive or an independent, meritocratic House which uses its expertise to offset the worst habits of the Commons whilst instilling in Legislation, the expertise of hundreds of members?

    Before one proceeds with the arguments for an unelected House, let's first address why politicians of the elected short wish to curse the Lords with elections. Does anyone here genuinely believe that politicians wish to elect the Lords out of some genuine belief in representative democracy? If so, one is quite naive.

    Support for an elected House of Lords amongst the elected politicians of this country is quite simple: Elections give parties and the wider elite control over the House; a House that otherwise remains a thorn in the sides of government be that over the issue of terrorism, civil liberties, fox hunting or health reform.

    I, like many, believe in reform of the House of Lords, however, unlike many, I do not believe democratisation is the right path to take. I believe an alternative path is required, one which is independent of democratic politics.

    I wish to see a chamber whose members are selected and appointed on the basis of ability, a chamber that is independent of Government and independent of the Lower House, a chamber whose members are representative of industry, labour, finance, the judiciary, academia, science and engineering, and a host of other professional occupations.

    To achieve this aim we should be seeking to strip the politics, and thus democracy, out of the equation entirely. I believe the following measures, bullet pointed for the sake of brevity, will put us on the right path.

    - Removing the Prime Ministers powers to appoint Peers; including the appointment of Peers on party lines
    - Ending the automatic appointment of senior politicians such as the Speaker or the Prime Minister
    - Banning former politicians, for at least a parliamentary term, of entering the Lords
    - Ensuring that all industries and sectors are represented; we want businessmen, judges and barristers, academics, engineers, health professionals, trade unionists and experts from other fields.
    - Restoring and extending the Law Lords presence in the chamber giving them full deliberative and legislative rights over matters of judicial importance; i.e. law and order policy
    - Removing the party affiliated benches within the chamber
    - Install a method of retirement based on attendance and ability to contribute

    We want a meritocratic chamber that seeks to ensure legislation that is passes is of top notch quality and will actually seek to improve Britain, rather than political gesturing.
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    (Original post by cesca42)
    I support an elected chamber in principle, BUT PLEASE NO MORE PARTY POLITICS!

    If it is elected, then make it so there are no political parties in the second chamber or we will just have two chambers that are pretty much the same.
    I'm not entirely sure how you will manage this. Parties are an essential feature of representative democracy and public accountability.

    I also quite like the idea of having experts though- people who will hopefully be able to offer a non-partisan and informed view on proposals of the government.
    That's the idea, and while I can agree it's not always realized by the present House, I think there is more to gain from an improved appointments system than by destroying expertise entirely by electing it.

    How would we elect a second chamber which doesn't have political parties? Not sure, don't have enough brain power at the moment to answer that.
    Would be interested to hear your ideas
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    My opinion; Any UK National in possession of a doctorate is eligible (as are all citizens deemed by their peers to be experts in their field ) to sit in the house of lords, 5 people from each sector in which the government legislates i.e Education, Medicine, Foreign Policy.... will be chosen every 3 years at random and must upon selection declare what political party they are in support of to ensure that all five have no allegiance to the same party. Then they keep the government in check for their term
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    (Original post by gladders)
    I'm fundamentally opposed to electing the House of Lords. Doing so defeats the very purpose of the Upper House.



    Considering one of the main criticisms of the Lords is that they are unaccountable for their actions, I don't see how single 15-year terms remedies that problem.
    Exactly firstly you can do a lot of damage in fifteen years if you were so inclined and secondly since their term is non-renewable they have no incentive to do anything other than line their pockets (Which I do not think is the prerogative of the current lords as their their for life ) as they don't have to worry about public opinion to keep their job.
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    (Original post by patrickinator)
    this is the thread were discussions about the house of lords reform will take place.
    Was it?
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    (Original post by meenu89)
    Prefer it to stay as it is.
    jog on Boris
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    (Original post by gladders)
    No it's not. That's like saying the judiciary is anti-democratic because it's appointed.
    So what's democratic about rich people being given power by other rich people?

    It's a darn sight more meritocratic than election.
    But that's irrelevant. Election is a system by which people are elected because it is they represent to a certain degree the views of the voters.

    Lords are appointed because they're rich - often because they're from rich families and sometimes because they make a lot of money for themselves. They aren't the best minds, or the best thinkers. 67 is currently the average age of a member of the house of lords, only 16 percent are women. Oh, and very few people of ethnic minorities, btw.

    Of course the rich will almost always vote in favour of their own interests (not saying it'd be different if they had lower income btw).

    So essentially for a law to get through HOL 800 odd old white men have to agree that it suites their interests.


    How? The Lords can only delay legislation and rely on persuading the Commons rather than bullying it into submission.
    I meant plutocratic, not autocratic - my bad.


    The majority of Lords deserve to be there for being good at what they do, but you are correct to point out a running sore in the appoints system of the House of Lords. But election is simply not the answer; reforming the appointments system is.
    You know what? If it's meritocratic, the best people for the best jobs then I kinda agree. Get in intellectuals and the like.
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    (Original post by Harolinho)
    So what's democratic about rich people being given power by other rich people?

    But that's irrelevant. Election is a system by which people are elected because it is they represent to a certain degree the views of the voters.

    Lords are appointed because they're rich - often because they're from rich families and sometimes because they make a lot of money for themselves. They aren't the best minds, or the best thinkers. 67 is currently the average age of a member of the house of lords, only 16 percent are women. Oh, and very few people of ethnic minorities, btw.

    Of course the rich will almost always vote in favour of their own interests (not saying it'd be different if they had lower income btw).
    I don't agree that Lords are appointed for their wealth. Not all of them are terribly rich - if they're experts, they will likely be employed in their fields of expertise, and if that means a large salary, I don't see your problem? There are a disproportionate number of businessmen in the Lords, I can agree, but election isn't the way to address this.

    67 is the current average age, but again, so what? You generally don't become an expert at age 20, and will need to have been rather seasoned to get a name for yourself. Moreover advanced age generally makes you a cooler thinker and less ambitious. As for women and ethnic minorities, the performance of the Lords in this field is broadly approximate to the Commons. Appointment can do wonders to remedy this.

    So essentially for a law to get through HOL 800 odd old white men have to agree that it suites their interests.
    Not true. It's clear from the last session that the Lords has picked up a habit of standing up for the poor to a more frequent degree than the Commons. Moreover the Commons got its way in the end, as the elected chamber. Even if your assertion on Lords only voting on their interests was true, they have no ability to quash a law that is genuinely popular.

    I meant plutocratic, not autocratic - my bad.
    Again, I disagree. I remember reading a story about the late Viscount Montgomery of Alamein being sorely embarrassed at claiming his pension at the post office once a week - he was very poor later in life, but people expected a Lord to be wealthy. It's not a comprehensive fact.

    You know what? If it's meritocratic, the best people for the best jobs then I kinda agree. Get in intellectuals and the like.
    Exactly I think this is the way we need to head, and that election will defeat the purpose of our Upper House. You have pointed to some valid criticisms of the present House, which can be remedied with a robust and meritocratic appointments system.
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    I don't see the point in the house of lords existing in its current state. If their only job is to improve legislation they should just be called legislation advisers not lords.
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    (Original post by internetguru)
    I don't see the point in the house of lords existing in its current state. If their only job is to improve legislation they should just be called legislation advisers not lords.
    Their function is to support the Commons in its work - that means conducting research, asking questions, laying and amending legislation, approving decisions and running committees. It's the standard function of upper houses worldwide. A rose by any other name (Lords/Senators what have you)...

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