Tuesday 4 October 2011

Reform of Second Chamber

According to Unlock Democracy a joint committee of both Houses of Parliament is at present considering reform of the second chamber and graciously requesting submissions from we, the public, which, again according to Unlock Democracy, must be both electronic and on paper (presumably just to make life more difficult). We have until 12th October.

The easy way out is to go to this site to answer an electronic questionnaire, and this site to send them a letter.

If you're short of ideas, my own submission was along the following lines.

Dear Committee Members,

I believe that a fully elected second chamber is the only legitimate authority in a modern democracy. The method of election should be different from that of the Commons. Whilst the Commons continues to use the largest minority system (misleadingly known as FPTP, but, if you think about it there is no post)I suggest PR by STV in constituencies based on the Wales, Ireland and Scotland, plus the regions of England.

Should the Commons adopt STV then the second chamber could use an open list system. The closed list system should not be considered as that tilts the balance of power in favour of the parties rather than the electorate.

As the Commons now has a fixed term of five years I suggest eight for the the second chamber.

If it is necessary, in order to persuade opponents to get rid of the present anachronism, to have some appointed members, then these should be no more than 20% of the membership. They should be selected by an appointments committee which contains no politicians and is as far as possible devoid of political influence. Anyone who has ever held or stood for election to public office should be ineligible for selection. The second chamber should not be a refuge for retired or failed politicians.

I believe the second chamber should be called a Senate and we should stop talking about the "reform " of the House of Lords. We want to replace it, not reform it.

For the time being the powers of the second chamber should remain as at present, with a commitment to revise them in, say, ten years' time, when we see how the new system is working.

Yours faithfully,

Please feel free to adopt or amend any of the above, and add comments for the benefit of others, but do please write, before 12th October. While the Tories fool around with the alleged effects of cat ownership on deportations it is important that some of us get on with serious politics.

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