Monday, 15 February 2010

The People's Democracy - An Elected House of Lords

From Peter Facey - Unlock Democracy

The 2005-2010 Parliament has been beset with scandal but the first big outrage was over 'cash for honours' when the full extent with which political parties were rewarding their donors with seats in the House of Lords was. Since then the House of Lords appointments process has been in tatters and in some ways has got worse, with people like Digby Jones being given a life peerage for taking up a government post, only to resign from the government a few months later.  Numerous peers have been embroiled in expenses scandals and controversy surrounding their work as paid lobbyists, yet they are completely unaccountable.

It is absurd that one of our Houses of Parliament continues to consist of political appointments.  It is high time we ditched our feudal past and had a UK democracy that is worthy of the name.  Throwing out the majority of hereditary peers has made the House of Lords a much more effective chamber for scrutinising and amending legislation - mainly because no single political party has a majority in it. But it continues to lack legitimacy; we need to finish the job.

In 2007, the House of Commons voted for replacing the Lords with a fully elected second chamber by a clear majority. Since then however, the pace of reform has been frustratingly slow. The Labour government have still not published their proposals for Lords reform while the Conservatives are pledging merely to "build a consensus for a mainly elected second chamber"; of the main parties only the Liberal Democrats are currently fully committed to actual reform.

2011 will mark the 100th anniversary of the Parliament Act which begins with the words ''it is intended to substitute for the House of Lords as it at present exists a Second Chamber constituted on a popular instead of hereditary basis, but such substitution cannot be immediately brought into operation".  We believe that it is time we fulfilled this promise.  Ensuring Lords reform is included in the POWER2010 pledge is one way you can put pressure on the politicians to make this happen.

1 comment:

The Ever-Open Eye said...

Somewhat off-topic, I know, but as you proudly boast of your admiration of Alex Salmond, perhaps this may interest you: