Reforming the House of LordsPresentation Transcript
Reforming the House of Lords
Learning Objectives• To understand the reforms implemented under Tony Blair• To understand the reforms implemented under Gordon Brown• To understand the reforms proposed under the Coalition
The House of Lords• Probably the most debated aspect of parliamentary reform is that of the House of Lords, which remains a totally non-elected second chamber.• What changes have been introduced so far and what are the main arguments surrounding the second chamber becoming elected or partially elected?
Reforms so far…• The Labour Party has long called for reform of the House of Lords. Labour MPs particularly have resented their legitimate authority being challenged by non-elected peers who are accountable to no one.• The Blair government moved to cut the number of hereditary peers down to 92 as part of a reform bill introduced in 1999, but many Labour backbenchers expected much swifter and more decisive measures and were disappointed by the governments response.
Future plans for the House of Lords• Stalling of Reforms• Criticisms of the Lords Reforms• Should the Lords be elected?• Abolishing the second chamber• The Coalition & the HofL
Options for Reform• Why is reform still necessary?• Reforms stalled after stage 1 – House of Lords is still undemocratic and lacks authorityNo ChangeRemove the House of LordsAn All Elected ChamberAn All Appointed ChamberPartly Appointed-Partly Elected Chamber
No ChangeThose who advocate no change argue that theHouse of Lords has proved to be effective as it is(see list of recent action) - it would be unwise tomake reforms which may have unknownconsequences.Those who argue against this point to the factthat the HoL is unrepresentative and it is nolonger tolerable to have such an undemocraticinstitution legislating in this modern age.
For Against The current HoL compliments the HoC as it It remains undemocratic and lacks has a different composition legitimacy and accountability The expertise and experience in the HoL is essential for scrutinyThere is less party influence - this is crucial for scrutiny The problem if it were elected at general election time under same voting system =likely to have same composition = no conflict and would become a rubber stampinginstitution HOWEVER if elected at a different time with a different system = likely to be stalemate because both houses have democratic legitimacy
Remove the House of Lords• It would be possible to remove the HoL altogether and to have a Unicameral system as they do in Denmark and in New Zealand.• The House of Commons has already demonstrated that they are not in favour of a unicameral system (2007 votes = majority of 253 in favour of retaining a second chamber.
For AgainstA second chamber is not needed in UK has too big a population for aa unitary system and anyway it can unicameral system - New Zealand only delay has less than 10 million Scrutiny needs to be carried out by A reformed House of Commons a second chamber with less party could be given more time for control/influence and it needs scrutiny more timeIt works efficiently in countries like There is little support for theis Denmark and Sweden, New option Zealand and Israel
An All Elected Chamber• Those that argue for a fully elected chamber point to the fact that this would be democratic and therefore more accountable. It would act as a more effective check on the Executive• Those who argue against it state that the new HoL might simply mirror the HoC and therefore it would serve no purpose - if a Govt. had a majority in both houses it would have far too much power.
For Against Democratic legitimacy - it would be moredemocratic -It is the only way to guarantee that the Specialist Knowledge - Advantage of appointed 2ndHoL would be accountable to the people – this is the Chamber = people can be chosen because they are only basis for legitimate rule. specialists/have experienceWider representation - 2 elected chambers would Gridlocked Govt - Two co-equal chambers = paralysis.widen the basis of representation (different voting There would be rivalry between them and between systems/terms/election dates/constituencies) = the Executive and Parliament. strengthen democratic processBetter Legislation - non elected basis of current HoL Complementary Chambers - 2 chambers = advantagerestricts its role as a revising chamber. If elected – because can carry out different roles - only one of popular authority would enable it to exercise these chambers needs to be popularly elected for this greater powers of scrutiny to work Dangers of Partisanship - Any elected chamber will beChecking the Commons - Only an elected body can dominated by the Party ‘hacks’ - an appointed 2nd properly check another elected body chamber would have reduced partisanship Ending Executive Tyranny - Exec dominates HoC. IfHoL = elected (especially on basis of PR) it would be Less Decisive Govt. - an elected HoL with more more powerful/have greater authority = better authority might impede decisive Govt. check
For Against Descriptive Representation - Elected Peers might have Elimination of any corrupt practices/cronyism in popular authority - but it would be hard to ensure appointment of Lords that they reflected society as a whole - this could be done through appointed PeersMove with the times - a fully elected chamber could Voter Apathy - Too many elections might lead to voter be changed at election time fatigue/apathy Composition - if elected at same time as HoC andelected on a regional basis = If this were the case it using same voting method = likely to be the same would enable the regions to have more composition = will become a rubber stamp HOWEVER representation if voted by different method at different time = different composition = likely to be stalemateAnother way of seeking redress for citizens - if their Primacy? - If both chambers are democratically ‘Lord’ was democratically elected elected - which takes primacy? More Responsive to public mood - therefore mayincrease public support for the govt. and faith in our system after recent scandals
An All Appointed Chamber• Those who favour this option argue that it would help to bring high quality members into the legislative process and avoid giving too much power to the second chamber (as this would obstruct effective government)• Those who argue against this option state that it would merely preserve the undemocratic nature of the HoL and would also extend the patronage of party leaders
For Against Opportunity to bring people into Could put too much power into the political process who would not hands of those who appoint the otherwise want to stand for Lords - could lead to corruption electionMembership could be controlled to ensure that all major It is undemocratic and holds backgroups/associations in society are progress towards a modern system represented it might lack legitimacy and public It can bring more independents support because the people have into the political process no part in its composition
Partly Appointed-Partly Elected Chamber• Those who argue for this option claim that it would combine the advantages of the two systems• Those who argue against it state that it would only be a compromise - the system would be only partially democratic and it would reserve the power of patronage
For Against Legitimacy and democratic Still undemocratic and thereforerepresentation would be provided lacking in legitimacy and without losing expertise accountability It would ensure a good gender/ethnic mix of LordsIt would retain the primacy of the HoC
EXAM FOCUSQuestion 2: Parliamenta) With reference to the source, what changes to the second chamber are proposed? (5)b) With reference to the source, and your own knowledge, explain the arguments for a fully or partly elected second chamber. (10)c) Make out a case against an elected second chamber. (25)(Total for Question 2 = 40 marks)
Q2 ParliamentWhite Paper on reform of the House of LordsThis White Paper sets out the government’s proposals for a reformed second chamber of the UK Parliament. Theproposals are based on the House of Commons votes for an 80% or 100% elected second chamber and follow cross-party talks on how this could be achieved. The White Paper makes proposals for reform in a number of areas:Role and compositionThe House of Lords plays a valuable role in holding the government to account and revising legislation. The reformswould strengthen those roles and make the second chamber more accountable. The House of Commons wouldcontinue to be theprimary chamber in the UK legislature.Membership of the chamberThe proposed reforms would create a second chamber with directly elected members, which would be smaller thanthe House of Commons. The remaining rights of hereditary peers to sit and vote in the second chamber would beremoved.Powers of the new chamberThe government proposes no changes to the powers of a reformed second chamber.The possible role of appointed members to ensure independenceIf it is decided that there should be a 20% appointed element, the government proposes that its key purpose wouldbe to provide a significant independent element in the second chamber. A statutory appointments commissionwould seek nominations and applications for membership. The government is also proposing changes to thearrangements for eligibility, remuneration and accountability.Source: White Paper, An Elected Second Chamber, July 14, 2008.a) With reference to the source, what changes to the second chamber are proposed? (5)b) With reference to the source, and your own knowledge, explain the arguments for a fully or partly elected second chamber. (10)c) Make out a case against an elected second chamber. (25)(Total for Question 2 = 40 marks)
Homework• Remember you owe an exam question for Thursday (28th – same day as History Dress up Day, I’m going as Oliver Cromwell btw)