Saturday, 23 July 2011

Lords Reform

Parliament has been debating the Lords Reform Bill which proposes an 80% elected House of Lords. One point that has been deliberated is the role of the Lords as a revising chamber, tapping into the long experience of its members to scrutinise Bills proposed by Parliament, which is typically composed of younger Members, some of whom may have just won their seats.
If there is a need for a second chamber my suggestion would be that 100% of its members be elected. Elections should be held perhaps a year or two after the general election. Using an online system people could approve or dismiss any number of Lords, with those most highly rated gaining a seat. Each candidate could provide a summary of their views and a categorised CV of their experience. The system could be searchable for certain phrases, for example Conservative, environmentalist, doctor, business man. (This is another example of how Web based Democracy could allow a novel and cost effective way of voting; others may have better ideas of how to use it.)
To limit the number of Lords each Citizen had to pass judgment on the total could be divided up and allocated to geographical areas of equal population size, but different to MP's constituencies so that a "Lord" couldn't claim a stronger mandate than an MP and usurp his authority: Parliament would therefore remain the premier house.
That's not to say that I particularly approve of the House of Lords. Abolishing it would save about £60m a year that I believe would be better spent on Interactive Democracy. I suspect ID would also help to ensure good quality MPs by making them more accountable, and it would provide the facility for people to devolve their votes to ex-MPs, thereby maintaining the involvement of the most experienced politicians. (Devolving your vote means that instead of voting on each issue your self you pass your vote to another MP or ex-MP for them to use as they see fit.)
More from The Guardian here.

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