I agree with all of Lord Faulkner’s suggestions to reform the House from the inside, overhauling the makeup and setting a retirement age. The need for these reforms, and their superiority over the plans for an elected House, were evident a long time ago, and I don’t know why it has taken this long for the right solution to emerge. We were very nearly saddled with the thoroughly undemocratic LibDem plan of senators on a party list who would be elected for one term of 15 years, and therefore never have to face their constituents. Further reducing the “democracy” in the plan was that the new House was specifically stated to be inferior to the Commons by the continuation of the Parliament Acts in the now-defunct Reform Bill. All of this was going to be sold to the public by the LibDems as more democratic than the existing House. This was a deception.
Can we now expect the LibDem peers who pressed for this change to vacate their seats in the Lords? The logic of their presence was that they were there only in order to vote for the abolition of the House and its replacement. If that is not going to happen, why would they want to stay in a House they regard as unworthy? Somehow I don’t think they will take this step. Moreover, what are the odds on our seeing Lord Clegg there one day when and if he ever loses his Commons position?
To add insult to injury the LibDems have petulantly declared that they will not now back the constituency boundary changes that Parliament assented to in outline. Whatever the electoral effect that those changes might bring, it can hardly be argued that creating constituencies of equal voting size is not more democratic. So the LibDem record is one of trying to alter the constitution in order to attempt to gain more places for their party in the reformed Lords via the STV system; and then blocking a more straightforward democratic reform to the way in which MPs are elected. All one can say for the episode is that it makes it more likely that the proper reforms contained in the Steel Bill will be enacted.
A final irony. It is the prospect of a defeat by a democratic majority in the Commons that has led to the failure that the LibDems so deplore. Apparently democracy is only a good thing when it delivers what you want.