Recently some politicians have suggested that they would like to introduce a fully elected House of Lords.
They suggest that each ‘Peerage Position’ could be created through an election similar to that which we will see on May 6th, and that this ‘New’ House will help to distinguish the flames of scandal and sleaze that have recently taken hold in Parliament.
This is a bad idea. I say so, not on party lines but as a personal opinion.
The United Kingdom government in Westminster is by no means perfect. The events of last summer proved that; as did the Bernie Ecclestone, and Cash-4-Peerages scandals. However, to have another fully elected chamber would disastrous. Over 1000 years the British system of democracy has created a unique position by which one House is occupied with the creation of legislation and the other is charged with debating it more fully and checking it.
Currently, the House of Lords, is made up of ex-Headmasters, ex-military personnel, ex-NHS executives, ex-MPs, ex-policemen, religious leaders, lawyers and many other different men and women for numerous professions, all who are able to study legislation with an experienced eye.
They are able to pull apart unworkable laws, combat politically motivated legislation and add their expertise and experience to bills that are sent to them which have been rushed through the Commons without proper deliberation. Were the Lords to be removed and replaced with elected peers, this unique and successful method of law creation would be lost forever. What’s more, the House of Lords may well be filled with career politicians who have stronger political motivations to pass legislation.
To those who say that this is already the case, I would say look closer. More than in any other place in government, the Lords are far less likely to vote along their loose party lines and are more likely to pass or deny legislation according to their expertise and knowledge.
Finally, under a scenario where both the Commons and House of Lords are fully elected, we would have to answer potentially destructive questions. Which House is superior to the other? If it is the House of Commons then automatically the votes cast to elect the Lords become secondary and vice-versa. Who is the PM selected from, the Lords or Commons? Who has the final say on legislation? Where will the role of ‘legislative check and balance’ come from when a party has a majority of ‘career politicians’ in both chambers?
We certainly have to adapt the Lords. We have to get rid of all hereditary peers, scrutinise their expenses and create a new method of selection to make a more diverse and fairer second chamber, but a fully elected House of Lords is a bad idea and those who suggest it seem to be trying to create headlines without thought for the good of the country and 1000 years of historical parliamentary development.