The House of Lords: How should it be reformed?

The issue of House of Lords reformation has been a hot one amongst political parties and Members of Parliament over many years. Many variant proposals have been espoused and debated in the commons, however I feel most are either flawed or outright useless.

Many have argued for a complete demise of the current rules of appointment; for a completely elected second house, much like that of America and Australia. This I feel would be a political tragedy, and would dramatically lower the high standard of debate seen in the house.

The beauty and success of the House of Lords indeed lies in the very fact that its members are not elected in. The appointment of many leaders and experts across all academia and professions ensures that those with both profound experience and great talent are granted membership. Such an eclectic group of prestigious persons gave great authority and respect to the house, and ensured that arcane and gravely important topics were debated exhaustively and adeptly.

Without election being needed to sustain membership to the house, Lords were able to debate without agenda or concern for public face, as they were not reliant on public votes to maintain their seat. Conversely, Commons politicians, reliant on such votes in their constituency for re-election, are fully aware of such a fact and their political position can be affectedly accordingly; forcing them to adhere to popular policies and lines of argument, as opposed to their true more risqué points of view. This centralising and softening of rhetoric can easily be seen in the policies of both the Tory and Labour party, the traditional vast gulf between the two’s stances has been thoroughly reduced of late.

Religious Leaders have been gifted seats automatically in the House of Lords since its inauguration. These Lords Spiritual have been increasingly under security in recent years, with many advocating a removal of their seats altogether. However, I would again argue that such drastic reform could lead to a ruining of the great dynamic of the House. Although a staunch secularist, I have great respect for religious leaders and believe their inclusion in the house both lends it added authority and balance, as the country is still dominated by theists, who far out number us atheists. I would indeed assign more religious leaders into the house, from all the major religions, so as to give even greater balance and representation to it. This would also have the added affect of allowing citizens who follow Islam, Judaism etc to feel greater connection to the political process in this country and help in alleviating social isolation and promote both greater cultural understanding and harmony.

In conclusion I propose a house with a minimum of 50% appointment without election; with such a contingent holding both secular and religious leader in a range of fields. The remaining 50% should be elected via proportional representation, as opposed to the ‘first past the post system’ employed in the Commons, so as to grant a more balanced and democratic bi-cameral political system.

Does such a proposal seem at all attractive to you…?

A quick comment on the House of Lords. It is out-dated and dysfunctional, and should be abandoned for the following reasons:

  1. it’s not democratic. This point is valid for all that think democracy is good.

  2. it’s not working. they have virtually no power. The thing the aristocracy of the Lords loved the most, fox hunting, couldn’t be savored in the democratic consensus of electoral rule.

  3. they get paid to do nothing (follows from 2 and the fact they get paid).

  4. the election process to the house isn’t based on merit or popularity but network and various (economic, social and cultural) capital.

And your proposal seems very unattractive. mixing politics and religion is a bad idea, for reasons known by Locke.

The building should be converted into a shelter for the homeless, poor, destitute and suchlike. The Lords should all be fired, if not executed for treason.

Nothing about British democracy is democratic. We have a government in power right now that was actually voted out at the last election, but it still has legislative authority. Over 99% of the people employed by government aren’t elected and cannot be removed by the electorate for incompetence or corruption. This can only be done by the judiciary, who are all unelected, appointed by the very same people they are supposed to hold to account.

The House of Lords is, in truth, neither here nor there in terms of the question of British democracy.

Religion and politics is already mixed. Indeed, the notion of all citizens being equal and therefore having an equal share of political power (with directly or by representation) is derived from Christian morality. Nietzsche knew this over a century ago, yet still we have militant secularists marching up and down and acting like it’s their idea and everyone who disagrees with them is a fundamentalist.

It’d be funny, if it weren’t such a pathetic state of affairs for an animal capable of so much more.

It should be abolished. Get rid of the Windsor’s while you’re at it.

That’s going a bit far, surely? Treason is conspiracy to kill a member of the royal family, and contrary to popular belief it does not carry the death penalty. Firing them is certainly a reasonable position to take, but to convict them of a crime they haven’t committed and subsequently punish them more severely than UK law allows is just the sort of injustice you seem to want to avoid.

Yes, the first past the post system can lead to a government with less than half the votes. I assume that’s what you’re getting at. Perhaps a thread debating Proportional Representation would be approprate. That’s the only alternative, and it has its own problems.

These people don’t make policy, however. The actual policy makers are te elected government. This 99% are mere functionaries who allow the policies of the elected government to be enacted. As to the judiciary, their appointments procedure is actually quite rigorously objective, with all senior judges appointed by an independent commission. The idea that uneledcted judges is a bvad thing is one I would challenge. Their role is to impartially enforce the laws passed by the elected legislature. If we require judges to become political, their objectivity will be clouded by the need to win votes and their decisions will reflect this. If you want real justice, ensure that the legislature are elected fairly and leave the judges alone.

It does serve a valuable role as an additional chamber of debate, although I agree that this function might be better served by an alternative institution, for example a fully elected second chamber.

Whether or not the notion was initially derived from Christian morality, democracy is now recognised as a desirable state of government in itself. When I and many others say democracy is good, I do not make any express or implied reference to God. Incidentally, since Athenian democracy predates Jesus by several centuries, I suspect that you are wrong. For the sake of clarity, do you consider the mix of religion and politics to be a good or a bad thing? On the point of militant secularism, I see little evidence of this in Britain. Secularism should not be confused with atheism, which is itself a religious conviction. I should make clear that I believe in a secular state. I believe that a state governed without religious conviction is the fairest and least divisive option, as well as allowing the greatest religious freedom to its citizens. Feel free to challenge me on this :slight_smile:

What’s your alternative? I am interested in the theory of government so I’d really like to hear your take on it, especially if it’s better than the current system.