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20.04.12

Vote for voting

The House of Lords is one of those irritating things that is offensive to almost all modern notions of democracy and meritocracy, but that actually does its allocated job quite well.

Expert scrutiny of legislation, a check on an over-powerful Commons and executive, professionals who’ve come from worlds outside full-time politics – all are useful, no doubt.

But none of that negates the need for democratic reform, which was contained in the manifestoes of all three major parties at the last election, and in the Coalition agreement. Labour got rid of many of the hereditary peers, but failed to do much more despite half-hearted attempts in the mid-2000s, foiled by mass disagreement on the exact make-up of a new second chamber

Many MPs, of course, fear a proportionally-elected upper house, which might lay claim to more legitimacy than they. Others genuinely believe that sacrificing appointed experts for those best able to win elections – politicians – would simply make for worse legislation.

According to reports, Conservative backbenchers are determined to rebel on this issue – though, if they do, few think that Lib Dem MPs will march themselves through the suicidal ‘yes’ lobby to boundary reform, a key Tory dream and probably vital if they want a majority next time. That’s also in the Coalition agreement, as was the AV referendum.

Lords reform, which has proceeded in dribs and drabs for more than a century, is still some way off.

Tell us what you think – have your say below, or email us directly at [email protected]ive.com

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