A little more pie in the sky planning this morning. It’s a model I’ve talked about before, but I’ll run it up the flagpole again and see if any of you buggers salute it.
DK has a go at a defence of a wholly appointed House of Lords by some Tory blogger. He makes the point (quite correctly in my opinion) that a fully appointed House of Lords is a bad thing. I’ve always viewed the Lords as a brake on the Commons. In its current incarnation it has the ability to chuck back a bill and say ‘are you really sure about this?’ Of course if the Commons (or more correctly, the majority party) are really sure then they can always force it through with the Parliament Act, most recently seen with the Bill banning hunting with dogs.
There are several problems with the Lords as I see it. Firstly the hereditary peers are there by dint of being the son of the son of the son of the son etc, who wiped Henry VIII’s arse, that is no foundation for good government. Granted a good deal of that has been swept away, but, secondly, appointed peers are probably worse, they are the people who wiped the arses, in a figurative sense, of the great and good from living memory. At least the hereditary Lords Temporal wouldn’t necessarily follow the party line like sheep. Appointed lords are completely beholden to the political parties for their position.
Then we have the Lords Spiritual, the 26 Bishops sat in the Lords. I don’t think people should sit in government (even though the Lords Spiritual traditionally don’t vote on matters of state, they could) just because they hold office in another organisation, least of all the Church. If we absolutely have to have them then they should be representative of all religions practiced in this country. The head of Scientologists sat in the Lords would be a right giggle.
No, it’s all a bit crap really.
My model is for a wholly elected Lords, by the public. But what to call it? Many people like the idea of Senators sat in a Senate. I think one of the best things about our Parliament, despite its ridiculous traditions and anachronistic practices, are its ridiculous traditions and anachronistic practices. Better that than the soulless carryings on in the European Parliament or some young nation from Eastern Europe. At the risk of sounding like the community out-reach diversity officer, I can think of no better way of handing out peerages than having the electorate say ‘we like this chap and think he should be recognised for being a good egg.’
So, I’d have an elected House of Lords with reps from each county, unitary authority and metropolitan area, with the number representing each area dependent on the population therein. To be elected for a maximum five year term, with each election two and a half years after any general election, to keep the Commons on their toes. If Worcestershire qualifies for three reps, say, then the people ranked 1st, 2nd and 3rd in the poll get elected. Those people get ennobled and can keep their title even after they’ve resigned or been booted out of office.
I’m undecided on two issues. Firstly if it should be election on an independent basis only, or if election as a member of a party should be permitted. Secondly should these people be paid a salary, reimbursed for their expenses (on a properly audited receipted basis) or do it gratis for the honour of representing their countyfolk?