Monday, November 20, 2006
The Chairman of the Joint Committee looking into Lords reform has spoken out against the idea of a hybrid second chamber. Lords reform featured in the Queen's Speech - not for the first time - and Commons Leader Jack Straw is said to favour a 50% elected second chamber, and 50% appointed. Lord Cunningham, chairman of the reform committee, says he sees no value in such a halfway house. Either stay with a wholly appointed Lords, or go for a wholly elected one. Straw's solution is the worst of both possible worlds.
But then of course it would be. Jack Straw is the man who, as Foreign Secretary, sleep-walked us into the war against Iraq. Now he's back, applying similarly ill thought through ideas to the parliamentary reform agenda. The man has no idea what he wants from a second chamber, except some vague idea that perhaps it should have a democratic element. The bankruptcy of his thought process is well pointed up by Cunningham; if you want democracy, then go for it without hesitation. If, on the other hand, you think there is value in maintaining a House of Lords that has consistently acted as a useful bulwark against hasty Commons thinking, then keep it the way it is. But for goodness sake - 50/50? Who are you trying to fool?!