Should we scrap the unelected house of Lords?

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gladders
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(Original post by driftawaay)
That would be like arguing with a Holocaust denier. I dont stoop that low.
Seriously? That's your ploy? Dismissing all those that have a different opinion of you as equivalent to Holocaust deniers?!

Why are you even on a discussion forum.
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scrotgrot
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(Original post by saayagain)
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?
Many reservations about the exact mechanism you are proposing but I have some agreement with parts of it (def not the crossed out bit!).

Here's my idea for political appointments that stems from yours. The problem is the majority party/PM packing the Lords. So how about we move to PR or similar for the lower house*, making single-party majorities unlikely, and have a Commons vote on the list of partisan Lords put forward for appointment each year. This means there at least needs to be some cross-party consensus, if only in the ruling coalition, on who gets in. I suppose voting on the full list at once could cause problems with people taking issue with problematic candidates, but it's an idea (hopefully this stuff would be ironed out at the committee stage).

*A proportional system is better and more justifiable these days as people are more mobile around the country. Electing a local representative is not quite so important. As a soon to be graduate I don't really care what happens in my university town, I care about London where I will hopefully end up working, and I suppose I care about where my parents (will) have retired to, and where I'll go when I get fed up of London.
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saayagain
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(Original post by gladders)
To hold the Government to account, to debate public issues, and to revise and improve legislation.
To hold the government to account for what?

Why do they debate public issues?

What revisions and improvements have been made to legislation?

(Original post by gladders)
It's a revising chamber that challenges, embarrasses, and sometimes delays legislation, but rarely if ever objects to something clearly in public demand.
So it's purpose is technical. Make sure the legislation is error free. If not, suggest some amendments to the way a piece of the legislation is written.

Parliament should be unicameral.

(Original post by gladders)
Why? What a bizarre and baseless claim.
Why? What is so special about the upper house. It seems pointless to me. If the parliament wants some sort of oversight of legislation or some additional debates to try to improve the legislation just in case something important has been missed, why not consult an 'expert' or issue the draft legislation to the public.

(Original post by gladders)
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.
It's not like the upper house ever stops legislation though. It's there as a formality. Just to suggest adding a specific condition here or a caveat there. The government bill goes through 100% of the time. All they do is review and suggest a different way of doing something. If the member of parliament agree, they agree and the legislation is changed. If not, **** goes on as usual.

(Original post by gladders)
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.
This check and balance crap is *******s. Legislative power is the parliaments to use. Executive power is the governments. The government produces most of the bills therefore they monopolize the legislative power. To have an effective check and balance means what? To make sure the government doesn't control all three branches of government lol

The executive branch controls the legislative branch. Therefore the upper house serves as just a reviewing platform. That's all.

(Original post by gladders)
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.
Within the legislative branch, the separation is not of power but of role within the legislative process. The executive controls the legislative. Simple.

(Original post by gladders)
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.
Let me change what I have said. This is a separation of civil society and the state issue.

(Original post by gladders)
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.
I'd like direct democracy but people won't want that bizarrely. This whole system is democratic dictatorship.

(Original post by gladders)
Somewhat a different discussion there, but that's an aside. Disagree entirely with your views on the upper house, though.
Meh. I've come to the conclusion that the upper house doesn't matter.

(Original post by gladders)
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.
I guess direct democracy is the only way eh...the legislative branch should be controlled by the people directly. The executive branch should be elected by the people. The same for the judiciary.

Ta ta
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saayagain
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(Original post by scrotgrot)
Many reservations about the exact mechanism you are proposing but I have some agreement with parts of it (def not the crossed out bit!).

Here's my idea for political appointments that stems from yours. The problem is the majority party/PM packing the Lords. So how about we move to PR or similar for the lower house*, making single-party majorities unlikely, and have a Commons vote on the list of partisan Lords put forward for appointment each year. This means there at least needs to be some cross-party consensus, if only in the ruling coalition, on who gets in. I suppose voting on the full list at once could cause problems with people taking issue with problematic candidates, but it's an idea (hopefully this stuff would be ironed out at the committee stage).

*A proportional system is better and more justifiable these days as people are more mobile around the country. Electing a local representative is not quite so important. As a soon to be graduate I don't really care what happens in my university town, I care about London where I will hopefully end up working, and I suppose I care about where my parents (will) have retired to, and where I'll go when I get fed up of London.
I don't even think an upper house is necessary. It's just reviews legislation to make sure it does miss things or has no errors. An additional function in government should be created that deals with such things. The committees and consultation processes should deal with the majority of issues.

I don't even like the separation between civil society and the state. I'd rather have the legislative system under the control of the people directly. Then the executive and judicial branch members are elected by the people in the most democratic way possible.
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sdotd
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it needs to represent the public so the current house of lords needs more ukip, more tory and less lib dem
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Birkenhead
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(Original post by saayagain)
I don't even think an upper house is necessary. It's just reviews legislation to make sure it does miss things or has no errors. An additional function in government should be created that deals with such things. The committees and consultation processes should deal with the majority of issues.

I don't even like the separation between civil society and the state. I'd rather have the legislative system under the control of the people directly. Then the executive and judicial branch members are elected by the people in the most democratic way possible.
Elected judges? Are you insane?
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Davij038
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(Original post by Birkenhead)
Elected judges? Are you insane?
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scrotgrot
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(Original post by saayagain)
I don't even think an upper house is necessary. It's just reviews legislation to make sure it does miss things or has no errors. An additional function in government should be created that deals with such things. The committees and consultation processes should deal with the majority of issues.

I don't even like the separation between civil society and the state. I'd rather have the legislative system under the control of the people directly. Then the executive and judicial branch members are elected by the people in the most democratic way possible.
Completely disagree I'm afraid. I think there should be both democratic and technocratic elements in all three estates*, and furthermore that separation between them is as important as the separation of the estates themselves. Hence I absolutely support a bicameral legislature, and I'm wary mainly of porousness between the houses.

*executive and judicial are wanting on the democratic front. Executive, when you consider the ~20 secretaries of state were elected by about 1/30th of the constituencies. Then even if they're all in the safest of seats Google just told me only 9 MPs won absolute majorities over 50%, so 1/60th is a very generous estimate of the amount of voters who positively voted them into the HoC at all, let alone the Cabinet, let alone SoS, let alone the particular department they were assigned. I'd like to crunch some proper numbers on this one day
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gladders
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(Original post by saayagain)
To hold the government to account for what?
Anything and everything that takes Members' fancy, as it should be.

Why do they debate public issues?
What type of question is that? They are a chamber of parliament. That should be sufficient.

What revisions and improvements have been made to legislation?
So it's purpose is technical. Make sure the legislation is error free. If not, suggest some amendments to the way a piece of the legislation is written.
As error-free as possible, yes, given what they have to work with and that all legislation, over time, becomes more erroneous.

Parliament should be unicameral.
Well, hang on. In your previous post you were making pretty clear noises about changing, not abolishing, the upper house. So which is it? Are you now saying it should be abolished?

Why? What is so special about the upper house. It seems pointless to me.
Which is why we don't base policy on personal prejudice. Based on empirical analysis by such sources as UCL's Constitution Unit, the House of Lords is one of the busiest chambers in the world and certainly very effective at what it does. The general call about Lords reform is that most people acknowledge the excellent work the Lords does, but simply want it to be differently composed.

If the parliament wants some sort of oversight of legislation or some additional debates to try to improve the legislation just in case something important has been missed, why not consult an 'expert'
They do, all the time. Committees especially. But an expert alone will be drowned out in the greater scheme of things, and honestly anyone can be dragged out and be a self-declared 'expert'. In order for it to be taken seriously as responded to, it has to be through Parliament. And it's always far more useful if the Member is themself the expert, who is questioning the minister directly.

or issue the draft legislation to the public.
Well firstly, they do do that, in both Houses, informally through MPs and also formally through consultations.

Such a process is enormously expensive. Moreover, you can't get everyone to participate, or participate in a way that's helpful. You can take a horse to water, but you can't get it to drink, sort of thing. A lot of the consultations descend into nothing more than NIMBY statements. Or the type of dross that's peddled on this forum sometimes.

It's not like the upper house ever stops legislation though. It's there as a formality. Just to suggest adding a specific condition here or a caveat there. The government bill goes through 100% of the time. All they do is review and suggest a different way of doing something. If the member of parliament agree, they agree and the legislation is changed. If not, **** goes on as usual.
That's the point. It's a revising chamber - not a blocking one, which is what we don't want. The Government deserves to get its legislation through as chosen by the people at the election. It's the job of the Lords to as much as it can turn broad-brush strokes of legislation into effective, tailored instruments.

And anyway, your claim about the Lords is false. The Lords blocks government legislative proposals all the time. I gave you a few examples in my previous post which you seem to have overlooked. Just the other week, the Lords defeated the government over regional devolution in England.

What's more, the Commons blocks government legislation even less regularly - what makes you think electing the Lords would make it behave any differently?

This check and balance crap is *******s. Legislative power is the parliaments to use. Executive power is the governments. The government produces most of the bills therefore they monopolize the legislative power. To have an effective check and balance means what? To make sure the government doesn't control all three branches of government lol
Go read some literature by Professor Juan Linz on how the parliamentary system is light years superior to the presidential system. The Government predominates in parliament because it earned it, through winning the election. The Commons can strike down legislation outright whenever it likes, but doesn't because a majority of its legislators agree with the government. That's entirely fine.

Moreover, you know what tends to happen when the government thinks its legislation won't pass parliament? It doesn't submit the legislation at all. So simply counting the number of Bills blocked is inherently flawed.

The executive branch controls the legislative branch. Therefore the upper house serves as just a reviewing platform. That's all.
A very effective reviewing platform. In 2012-13 the Lords considered 71 bills, debated 3,800 changes to them, passed over a thousand, and 38 of those bills became law. In the same period It looked at 893 statutory instruments.

Within the legislative branch, the separation is not of power but of role within the legislative process. The executive controls the legislative. Simple.
I would argue 'control' is a bit too strong. It has a predominating influence, yes, but it can be overriden and defied in both chambers. The Lords more than the Commons.

Let me change what I have said. This is a separation of civil society and the state issue.
I'm not sure I follow.

I'd like direct democracy but people won't want that bizarrely. This whole system is democratic dictatorship.
Direct democracy is fine in certain circumstances by you can't govern 60 million people with it.

Meh. I've come to the conclusion that the upper house doesn't matter.
Well then you need an education

I guess direct democracy is the only way eh...the legislative branch should be controlled by the people directly. The executive branch should be elected by the people. The same for the judiciary.

Ta ta
Nah, not appealing in the slightest.
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k4l397
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I think it is very outdated, and does need changing. As a whole I think the democratic element to our country needs changing to be more representative. I find it shocking that with 24% of possible votes, the conservatives some how have 50% of the seats - it is wrong. I think it is made worse that Cameron wants the House of Lords to represent the scene in the House of Commons better - he wants fair representation where it suits him. I personally am of the belief that the current system is far from what democracy should be.

I personally would like to see an elected upper house and for both houses to be representative of voters. We certainly should not see a case where 1 million+ votes results in 1 seat. I am yet to see a reason to keep the current FPTP system that I agree with, it simply does not work. Sorry for going a little off topic, but I think the two topics of electoral reform and reform of House of Lords are strongly linked if we are aiming for a more democratic society.
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gladders
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(Original post by k4l397)
I think it is very outdated, and does need changing. As a whole I think the democratic element to our country needs changing to be more representative. I find it shocking that with 24% of possible votes, the conservatives some how have 50% of the seats - it is wrong. I think it is made worse that Cameron wants the House of Lords to represent the scene in the House of Commons better - he wants fair representation where it suits him. I personally am of the belief that the current system is far from what democracy should be.

I personally would like to see an elected upper house and for both houses to be representative of voters. We certainly should not see a case where 1 million+ votes results in 1 seat. I am yet to see a reason to keep the current FPTP system that I agree with, it simply does not work. Sorry for going a little off topic, but I think the two topics of electoral reform and reform of House of Lords are strongly linked if we are aiming for a more democratic society.
Crticisms of FPTP aside, this sounds logically flawed: 'The House of Commons is broken so let's change the House of Lords'.
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looseseal
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I would like to see proportional representation in the House of Lords and a fixed term of service.

PR would be hard to bring in to the House of Commons as it takes away the accountability of MPs whereas in the House of Lords it can serve to better represent the views of the public as a whole.
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SeriouslySara
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No, we should not scrap the House of Lords because it plays an important role in holding the government to account regardless of the outcome of an election, something that the House of Commons can't do. When a party has a large majority, like Labour in 1997 the House of Commons is almost ineffective and so in those instances the Lords is valuable.

The House of Lords needs to be reformed though: 1) The house size has to be reduced, it is getting a bit ridiculous. 2) Like judges, they should also be appointed by an independent body because PM patronage reduces its effectiveness in scrutinizing the government.
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gladders
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(Original post by looseseal)
I would like to see proportional representation in the House of Lords and a fixed term of service.

PR would be hard to bring in to the House of Commons as it takes away the accountability of MPs whereas in the House of Lords it can serve to better represent the views of the public as a whole.
That's problematic. What happens if two elected chambers clash? If the FPTP Commons and the PR Upper House disagreed, who ought to win? If the Commons still uses the Parliament Act, wouldn't that be a democratic outrage from your point of view?

Also: why would we want another House of elected politicians? Why not something different, like a chamber of experts, to complement the Commons and not to challenge it?
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looseseal
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(Original post by gladders)
That's problematic. What happens if two elected chambers clash? If the FPTP Commons and the PR Upper House disagreed, who ought to win? If the Commons still uses the Parliament Act, wouldn't that be a democratic outrage from your point of view?

Also: why would we want another House of elected politicians? Why not something different, like a chamber of experts, to complement the Commons and not to challenge it?
Do the two chambers not already clash? The current process by which a policy is allowed to pass through should continue. As is already dictated by convention, if a policy specifically outlined by a party in their manifesto passes through a vote in the House of Commons then the House of Lords should not be able to block it.

A chamber of experts would be a nice proposition but that could still be incorporated in my proposed system. Parties can suggest experts to represent them in the House of Lords and an independent body can decide whether the individual has sufficient expertise to vote on issues regarding their specific subject. Obviously this represents issues if we consider parties who have very few representatives due to gaining only a low percentage of the overall vote but exceptions can always be made. To be honest, I just believe that while a FPTP system remains in the House of Commons, I feel bringing in a chambers that can also provide PR would be beneficial to democracy.

Also, who's to say that experts in this chamber you suggest would not already have political leanings that affect their vote? Ensuring that we know where members of chamber's loyalties lie will give a certain level of transparency not afforded by the system you proposed. (That's not to say they'll always vote in favour of the party that selected them)
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gladders
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(Original post by looseseal)
Do the two chambers not already clash? The current process by which a policy is allowed to pass through should continue. As is already dictated by convention, if a policy specifically outlined by a party in their manifesto passes through a vote in the House of Commons then the House of Lords should not be able to block it.
The Parliament Act has as its basis that its logic only lasts as long as the House of Lords is unelected. This problem is the precise reason why Clegg's Lords Reform Bill of 2012 fell on its face, and you haven't solved it.

A chamber of experts would be a nice proposition but that could still be incorporated in my proposed system. Parties can suggest experts to represent them in the House of Lords and an independent body can decide whether the individual has sufficient expertise to vote on issues regarding their specific subject. Obviously this represents issues if we consider parties who have very few representatives due to gaining only a low percentage of the overall vote but exceptions can always be made. To be honest, I just believe that while a FPTP system remains in the House of Commons, I feel bringing in a chambers that can also provide PR would be beneficial to democracy.
Sorry, are you now saying the Lords should be appointed? It seems to contradict your earlier demand that it be elected.

Also, who's to say that experts in this chamber you suggest would not already have political leanings that affect their vote? Ensuring that we know where members of chamber's loyalties lie will give a certain level of transparency not afforded by the system you proposed. (That's not to say they'll always vote in favour of the party that selected them)
I don't see why political opinions shouldn't be a valid reason for having a view in the chamber. The point is to persuade those who don't, and that's what debate is about.
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looseseal
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(Original post by gladders)
The Parliament Act has as its basis that its logic only lasts as long as the House of Lords is unelected. This problem is the precise reason why Clegg's Lords Reform Bill of 2012 fell on its face, and you haven't solved it.

Sorry, are you now saying the Lords should be appointed? It seems to contradict your earlier demand that it be elected.

I don't see why political opinions shouldn't be a valid reason for having a view in the chamber. The point is to persuade those who don't, and that's what debate is about.
I didn't say that the House of Lords would be elected - I said that its composition should reflect the proportion of votes in the country. In other words, each party will have a fixed number of individuals that they would be allowed to select for the House of Lords dependent on the percentage of votes they received in the general election. Combine this with a fixed term of service and you get, in effect, a PR system.

There is always scope to include those independent of any political leanings as there already exists with the Lords Spiritual.
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gladders
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(Original post by looseseal)
I didn't say that the House of Lords would be elected - I said that its composition should reflect the proportion of votes in the country. In other words, each party will have a fixed number of individuals that they would be allowed to select for the House of Lords dependent on the percentage of votes they received in the general election. Combine this with a fixed term of service and you get, in effect, a PR system.

There is always scope to include those independent of any political leanings as there already exists with the Lords Spiritual.
Ah, I apologise, I took your words to imply election by a PR system.
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RobML
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(Original post by saayagain)
bs
Didn't mean to rep this lol
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MaxReid
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Vernon Bogdanor made the point in a lecture about the 2015 election at Gresham College that Labour and the Liberal Democrats have a majority in the House of Lords. I can see the argument for abolition of the unelected Lords because it's composition does not reflect the election result as Labour and the LDs have a majority in the Lords.
However, I think there is a great deal of experience in the Lords, many of these people sit as Crossbenchers (non partisan, at least at face value) and can scrutinize the Commons. Also, the Parliament Acts mean the Lords can't veto Commons legislation ad infinitum.
I think on balance the House of Lords should stay.
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