Although I think the House of Lords is too large and needs to be reduced in size I don’t think the discussion about reform should start with that particular issue. We can and probably will be reducing the size in the reasonably near future. The bigger question is what do we want our second chamber to do? What should be its role and functions?
Those who want a quick look at existing functions can look at this entry on the Parliament web site: http://www.parliament.uk/about/mps-and-lords/about-lords/what-the-lords-do/
I think a country the size of the UK needs a second chamber and I also see it as an important protection for our democracy and constitution. As long as the elected chamber can over-ride the appointed chamber in most matters then your democratic accountability is preserved and it is important to remember that appointed chambers can be a powerful check at times when social and economic stress results in an authoritarian party taking power. Never forget that Hitler and Mussolini were elected. Elections alone are not enough to protect your freedoms.
I think the primary role of the Lords is to revise and scrutinise legislation but I think it is and should remain much wider then that.
The issue of election to the second chamber should be addressed in the context of the British constitution. Precisely because our constitution is unwritten it makes it difficult to elect a second chamber without producing a continuing conflict for supremacy beteen the Houses UNLESS you write a constituion first which defines the powers of each House.
There is a case for a second chamber elected from the regions of the UK which, given the welcome devolution of power in recent years, would enable us to bring the devolved parts together in the second chamber. You could also have a partly elected second chamber which reflects this principle.
An appointed chamber does have many arguments going for it in the British situation but we need to rethink how those appointments are done. We might also want to consider change carried out progressively rather than in a single Act of Parliament that is currently proposed and which I think is wholly unrealistic and unlikely to find its way onto the statute book.