This completes my current entry following the other three posts below.
So where do we go from here. Saying ‘no’ to the present Bill is common sense but what is the alternative. Both Houses need reform but if we are not to re write our constitution then it needs to be gradualist. Tony Blair took a key step in restricting the number of hereditary Peers and although many of them do a good job, membership of the House should now be by appointment and no longer based on the hereditary principle. We should also reduce the number of Peers. Over 800 is far too many. There is also a strong case for revisiting the appointments system even though it has improved over the last 15 years.
The present Bill hasn’t asked the most basic question of all. What do we want the second chamber to do? Answer that question first – then ask how the chamber should be constituted. If we want it to carry on doing the scrutiny that is not currently done in the Commons then appointment works – as long as the elected Commons can always have the last word. Democracy requires the elected chamber to have the upper hand and in Britain it does.
A last thought. Devolution is rightly in fashion but please not the independence asked for by the Scottish Nationalists. Why would we want to break up the most successful political and economic union the world has ever seen? But a federal House reflecting all parts of the UK? – now there is a totally new agenda – but not for this post!