Monday, November 20, 2006

Lords Reform


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?!

1 comment:

Lestaki said...

While I disagree with your passionate attack on Jack Straw and his position (mostly because it was so passionate, this seems consistent with the position this government has taken on Lords reform. They like the idea in principle, but have no concrete idea on how to go about it, and that doesn't seem to be changing. As such, I'm uncertain that we'll see any reforms going ahead. On principle, though, I'm a small c conservative on this. The Lords acts as a check on the government, but if the government really wants to it can plow straight through, given enough time. The fox hunting ban is case and point on this. I'm not sure what we would gain from making the second chamber elective except to add a new election to the list, and probably add to voter apathy therein.

-M. Pester