Should we scrap the unelected house of Lords?

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TomatoLounge
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I think we should definitely scrap the house of Lords; it's absurd, outdated and unaccountable. I don't think we should let the main political parties hand out powerful positions to their donors and I especially don't understand why religious figures and hereditary lords are allowed to make decisions on our laws. Why not democracy?
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Arbolus
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(Original post by TomatoLounge)
I think we should definitely scrap the house of Lords; it's absurd, outdated and unaccountable. I don't think we should let the main political parties hand out powerful positions to their donors and I especially don't understand why religious figures and hereditary lords are allowed to make decisions on our laws. Why not democracy?
Democracy isn't perfect. Like every other political system it has its flaws, such as being susceptible to populism and discouraging politicians from thinking long-term. Therefore, it makes sense to try and mitigate some of those flaws by introducing some non-democratic elements, such as an unelected second chamber.

I'm not saying the House of Lords is perfect. It's much too big, for one thing, and the Prime Minister has too much control over who gets a seat. But nevertheless it does do a very important job, and scrapping it (or worse, making it elected) would do absolutely no good to anyone and would instead badly damage this country's safe and stable political system.
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saayagain
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(Original post by Arbolus)
Democracy isn't perfect. Like every other political system it has its flaws, such as being susceptible to populism and discouraging politicians from thinking long-term. Therefore, it makes sense to try and mitigate some of those flaws by introducing some non-democratic elements, such as an unelected second chamber.

I'm not saying the House of Lords is perfect. It's much too big, for one thing, and the Prime Minister has too much control over who gets a seat. But nevertheless it does do a very important job, and scrapping it (or worse, making it elected) would do absolutely no good to anyone and would instead badly damage this country's safe and stable political system.
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driftawaay
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(Original post by Arbolus)
Democracy isn't perfect. Like every other political system it has its flaws, such as being susceptible to populism and discouraging politicians from thinking long-term. Therefore, it makes sense to try and mitigate some of those flaws by introducing some non-democratic elements, such as an unelected second chamber.

I'm not saying the House of Lords is perfect. It's much too big, for one thing, and the Prime Minister has too much control over who gets a seat. But nevertheless it does do a very important job, and scrapping it (or worse, making it elected) would do absolutely no good to anyone and would instead badly damage this country's safe and stable political system.
L M A O
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SotonianOne
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Scrapping hereditary positions yes. Scrapping House of Lords absolutely not. We should be moving closer to a constitutional technocracy, not away from it.
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Birkenhead
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(Original post by TomatoLounge)
I think we should definitely scrap the house of Lords; it's absurd, outdated and unaccountable. I don't think we should let the main political parties hand out powerful positions to their donors and I especially don't understand why religious figures and hereditary lords are allowed to make decisions on our laws. Why not democracy?
A democratically elected House of Lords would swap corruption for worse corruption. The current set-up allows the Lords more or less to speak their minds and allows them the freedom to act in what they believe to be in the best interests of the nation. However undemocratic their appointments, the vast majority of the Lords are experienced, intelligent people who care about the country's welfare. If they were elected their primary interest would become being elected again which would skew their actions towards towards the promise-breaking, populism and generally insensible policy-making that we already bemoan in the House of Commons.

It is ultimately beneficial for our democracy to have an elected lower House and an unelected upper House that is protected from and allowed to act as a check on the follies of indirect democracy.
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Arbolus
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(Original post by saayagain)
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(Original post by driftawaay)
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I'm guessing then that you have no counter-arguments to make?

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driftawaay
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(Original post by Arbolus)
I'm guessing then that you have no counter-arguments to make?

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That would be like arguing with a Holocaust denier. I dont stoop that low.
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saayagain
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(Original post by Arbolus)
I'm guessing then that you have no counter-arguments to make?

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Of course I do. Will you change your mind if you agree with what I have said?
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arfah
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No. The lords hold the house of commons accountable of their actions. The lords also have a lot of experience that those in the commons may not have. Abolishing it would create more problems, eg; having a second elected chamber would create competition between the chambers.
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Arbolus
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(Original post by driftawaay)
That would be like arguing with a Holocaust denier. I dont stoop that low.
Well then, which bit of what I've said do you disagree with? Do you think that pure democracy is completely without flaws?

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Arbolus
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(Original post by saayagain)
Of course I do. Will you change your mind if you agree with what I have said?
If I find what you say convincing then yes, I may well reconsider. I'm no zealot.

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TimmonaPortella
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(Original post by TomatoLounge)
Why not democracy?
Because then it gets party political and you get another house full of career politicians, rather than an apolitical reviewing house with some actual expertise in it.
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drowzee
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No it should not be abolished. I agree that allowing inherited peerages and bishops a place in the House of Lords is absurd, however majority of the lords are experienced experts in their particular field and are life peers. The lords are able to make amendments to bills which the commons may not be able to do, using their expertise. It's important to have an upper chamber because they can delay bills which then the government can revise such bills, to change or scrap them. It would be pointless having an elected upper chamber as it would become too party political and thus may not hold the commons accountable.

Although changes do need to be made because it's not perfect.
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saayagain
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(Original post by Arbolus)
If I find what you say convincing then yes, I may well reconsider. I'm no zealot.

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What is the purpose of the upper house?

What is their relationship with the lower house and the citizens?

If the purpose is solely technical, then those who are in the upper house should have no affiliation with political parties (like a civil servant).

If the purpose is political, then it should be a house that represents those who are effected by the legislation so they can provide their relevant recommendations. (constituency level). This would require a change in the whole electoral system.

Their relationship with the lower house is close. MPs and speakers of the house move seamlessly into the house of lords. The PM can 'recommend' MPs for peerage. How is this an effective check and balance? When has the house of lords prevented a government bill going through? They haven't. Their power is limited to the power to review and recommend amendments.

Their relationship with the citizens is non existent.

So, overall, depending on the purpose of the upper house, it should either be depoliticized or changed into a 'The National Congress of Councils' where Councils have direct oversight of the legislative process therefore providing relevant input that should be incorporated into legislation. This must be coupled with a change in the electoral system for the lower house. It should move to a PR system, kind of like Switzerland. The head of government should comprise a multitude of parties if no outright majority stands. Which means informal coalitions will be required. The parties select their potential government members and people can choose on a party basis and person basis. This will create a nationally representative lower house and a relevant upper house. I haven't figured out how the legislative powers should be separated between the two houses. Generally the upper house should funnel people's thoughts to ensure that they are considered during the legislative process.

What do you think?
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gladders
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Absolutely not. There is no need to elect the upper house, which would simply be a clone of the Commons. The House does its job extremely well and enhances our democracy.

That's not to deny that it needs significant technical reforms, however.
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gladders
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(Original post by saayagain)
What is the purpose of the upper house?
To hold the Government to account, to debate public issues, and to revise and improve legislation.

What is their relationship with the lower house and the citizens?
It's a revising chamber that challenges, embarasses, and sometimes delays legislation, but rarely if ever objects to something clearly in public demand.

If the purpose is solely technical, then those who are in the upper house should have no affiliation with political parties (like a civil servant).
Why? What a bizarre and baseless claim.

If the purpose is political, then it should be a house that represents those who are effected by the legislation so they can provide their relevant recommendations. (constituency level). This would require a change in the whole electoral system.
Why? On what basis? You have to make it meaningfully different from the Commons, remember. Two elected chambers representing the same thing is what Italy has, and it sucks for them.

Their relationship with the lower house is close. MPs and speakers of the house move seamlessly into the house of lords. The PM can 'recommend' MPs for peerage. How is this an effective check and balance?
It's not. I agree.

Doesn't mean election would do any better though.

I'm strongly in favour of reforming the appointments system so that the PM cannot appoint whoever he likes, and that it goes through a more stringent process.

Trouble is this never gets support because shallow twerps like Mr. Clegg argue it's election or nothing, and they throw their toys out of the pram when they don't get their way.

When has the house of lords prevented a government bill going through? They haven't. Their power is limited to the power to review and recommend amendments.
Which is as it should be, you nitwit. If it ever stops legislation it's only ever through securing enough criticism in the Commons to stop that legislation proceeding. It's through pointing out flaws and arguing merits that it serves our system. See the 90-day detention limit, for example. And what about supercasinos, and the major revisions to technical legislation like the Public Bodies Act?

Why measure legislative power only in terms of Bills blocked? That's a bizarre idea.

Their relationship with the citizens is non existent.
How do you mean? If you mean they don't have any electoral or formal link with the electorate, then that's a feature, not a bug. It's the Commons concern, that is.

So, overall, depending on the purpose of the upper house, it should either be depoliticized or changed into a 'The National Congress of Councils' where Councils have direct oversight of the legislative process therefore providing relevant input that should be incorporated into legislation.
Such an idea is baseless and wouldn't last five minutes. Legislators are inherently opinionated, and cannot legislate without voicing their opinions. Unless you propose to make the House of Lords entirely closed-door, shut down the public galleries, and turn off the TVs and microphones, there's no way the Lords could replicate civil servants, to which they are nothing alike.

This must be coupled with a change in the electoral system for the lower house. It should move to a PR system, kind of like Switzerland. The head of government should comprise a multitude of parties if no outright majority stands. Which means informal coalitions will be required. The parties select their potential government members and people can choose on a party basis and person basis. This will create a nationally representative lower house and a relevant upper house.
Somewhat a different discussion there, but that's an aside. Disagree entirely with your views on the upper house, though.

I haven't figured out how the legislative powers should be separated between the two houses. Generally the upper house should funnel people's thoughts to ensure that they are considered during the legislative process.

What do you think?
How would an elected House 'funnel people's thoughts' any differently than the House of Commons does?

The Swiss Council of States represents the cantons and semi-cantons of the Swiss Confederation, not the people. The purpose of the Councillors there is to think of the concerns of the federal structure of Switzerland. Its a fundamentally different representational basis.

It's not replicable here in the UK.
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c_al
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No, the house of Lords being unelected gives it a degree of independent thought, free from part squabbling. If the house was elected then this would not be the case and we might as well have a second house of commons.

Also, people complain a lot about the Lord expenses, but the are unpaid and the salaries of elected representatives would be far higher than what a Lord is able to claim.
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scrotgrot
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Echo the majority of comments in this thread. It's the same reason I am a monarchist.

However the Lords can be used as a political tool, Cameron for example wants to pack the Lords "to reflect the situation in the Commons", which completely misses the point and (wilfully) misunderstands the reason for the disparity: there are many independents and Lib Dems in the Lords, so that Tory (and all other) Lords are in a minority, for precisely the reasons discussed ITT.

I don't know enough about it to say how the Lords should be reformed, in terms of the elevation of ex-ministers, party donors, hereditary peers and bishops. Instinctively I want to remove all elements of Commons party allegiance from the Lords, but that may obfuscate things even more with Lords acting with party allegiance just not declaring it.

I think it's unequivocal that the size of the House ought to be reduced though. The problem is if you want to make party political appointments you can't exactly do it by removing the privileges of those already there, you can only add more people to it. My first thought is to give Lords a reasonably long time limit, such as 20 years, after which they must step down, but to be fair this is basically what life peerages are, except with unpredictability built in (which is good).

Also unequivocal I think is that there should be more scrutiny and popular coverage of what they get up to. This is not forthcoming probably because they don't have the power to do much more than delay bills and because they are not elected so no special interest group stands to gain from informing the populace of the good and/or bad things they say and do. I think more coverage would be fantastic for developing independence of thought in the national conversation, however, as opposed to partisanship (and turning the PM into a president) which seems to be getting worse.
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MatureStudent36
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(Original post by driftawaay)
That would be like arguing with a Holocaust denier. I dont stoop that low.
You should try expressing your opinion.

Of all the major European nation states, the UK is the only one that hasn't embraced weirdness.

The simple fact is that the House of Lords doesn't have the ability to stop legislation being passed, merely delay it. That in itself stops populist policies being passed that would be damaging in long term. Think how many 'flavour of the month knee jerk reaction policies that they have amended over the years.

You should spend some time watching the lords in action. It's slow because they go over detail. Detail that is discussed by people with huge amount of experience and limited to no loyalty to political parties.
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