Lords’ reform

There is a very good article by Conor Burns, MP for Bournemouth West, in the latest issue of Total Politics.  You can read the article here.  He makes the point that the current debate is about who should sit in the Lords rather than about what it should do.  He contends that what it does it does well and he is not persuaded by the arguments for election.

Ladytizzy’s recent comment, referring to evidence she has submitted to the Joint Commitee on the Draft House of Lords Reform Bill, prompts me to remind any readers wishing to submit evidence that it should ideally be submitted by 12 October.  You can see the call for evidence here.

About Lord Norton

Professor of Government at Hull University, and Member of the House of Lords
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8 Responses to Lords’ reform

  1. Mr Miller says:

    It is a very good point.

    There is a strong debate to be had regarding Lords Reform. It is, however, a complex subject to tackle. Membership is just one aspect of the issue and function another. Membership is the one that promotes most debate as some regard it is archaic that it is not constituted of elected members. I, personally, believe that the issue of membership is somewhat subordinate to the issue of function.

    On this issue, I also believe that being debating whether the Lords undertakes its current functions well should be placed in a wider debate about what the Lords could do and what roles it really should have overall. I fear this debate would have to encompass, by default, a discussion on the overall constitution.

    The complexity of this issue suggests that an overall debate surrounding our current constitutional settlement can not easily be had in the public domain. Which is a shame.

    • Lord Norton says:

      Mr Miller: Indeed, the debate tends to be rather narrow. There is a powerful case for starting from looking at Parliament as a whole and what we expect of it. Composition cannot be detatched from functions and functions cannot be seen in isolation of how we see the legislature and its place in the political system.

      I do think that the wider constitutional framework can be considered within the public domain, indeed needs to be. This is something I have variously argued.

  2. ladytizzy says:

    The article you linked to asks (and partially answers) some of the most basic questions circumvented by Mr Clegg. The immediate, and continuing, thoughts I had upon first reading the Draft were centred on the level of detail he had committed to a voting system when compared with the copious amounts of surrounding waffle.

    PS It’ll be a while before my scribblings are complete!

  3. hightory says:

    A very good article that raises some interesting points. I should direct your readers to the Facebook page “We Say NO To an Elected House of Lords”, created to advance arguments against an elected upper chamber: http://www.facebook.com/noelectedlords Your blog articles often feature on it!

  4. Frank W. Summers III says:

    Lord Norton,

    Possibly the greatest point of resonance for me is where the Member of Parliament encourages the idea of thinking of this as a special kind of vote and one for numerous parliaments. That is an idea I think must grow in the UK over coming years, decades and centuries if it is to preserve the better parts of it constitutional nature and genius…

  5. Frank W. Summers III says:

    Lord Norton,

    I am always aware that I am the only foreigner committed to radical constitutional change in another country who regularly comments on your blog here but while my views on reforming our own Congress may be radical the truth is that Congress as it is does not satisfy:
    Another recent poll found that 6% of people believed Members of Congress deserved to be reelected. I do not believe popularity is the sole standard for legitmacy but I do believe that when it is given so much power in a society its creatures should succeed in being popular. Lords may need all sorts of reforms and yet still not need universal direct popular election — the one does not follow the other.

    For anyone who wonders what sort of radical change I favor here I am posting this link:

    The issue that faces Lords today is not unlike that faced in Europe during the late seventeenth and ealy eighteenth century. Then there was a tendency acros many societies to reduce all open and formal politics to a simplified royalist Monarchis absolutism and to rewrite history and political philosophy to pretend that these were ancient and enduring ideals. The same sort of unconscienced fabrication and casuistry now serves the cause of liberal democracy. in my view it is this dishonesty and lack of realism which is the common enemy to oppose in both eras…

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