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How might the House of Lords be reformed to make it more effective?

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Introduction

How might the House of Lords be reformed to make it more effective? (25) Lords sat by reason of inheriting their titles and archbishops and bishops by reason of their rank in the church. Calls for reform of this distinctive chamber have previously been made, especially since the expansion of the franchise in the 19th century, producing a first chamber able to claim legitimacy through popular election. In 1884, after the Lords refused to pass the Franchise Bill, John Morley declared that the Lords should be 'mended or ended'. Lord Bryce declared that 'the House cannot go on as it is'. In the event, reform came in the twentieth century but demands for further change have continued. Before looking at we could reform the House of Lords, to make it more effective, we must first understand some of their weaknesses. ...read more.

Middle

However, only through appointment will the chamber be able to attract those who are not professional politicians- and particularly those who have no strong affiliation (union) to a political party. A mixed chamber allows the strengths of both the elected and appointed models to be combined. The Lords have peers who represent a wide variety of interests and expertise, being largely exceptional citizens with considerable specialised experience. This model also helps ensure that whilst the chamber gains legitimacy, it can never challenge the primacy of the fully elected House of Commons. Moreover, the mixed elected/appointed chamber has already been recommended by other groups that have reported on Lords reform, including the Royal Commission and the Public Administration Committee. The House of Lords currently has around 788 members. ...read more.

Conclusion

When the Commons voted, a majority of those taking part supported either a 60% or 80% elected House. Therefore, a second chamber which consists of 70% elected members would achieve broad public and political support, and meet the need for both greater legitimacy and protection of the independent element in the Lords. This will also ensure that the chamber represents the whole of the UK, and maintains a fair balance between the political parties. The inclusion of a large group of elected members will mean that the chamber is sufficiently legitimate in the eyes of the public to carry out its duties - including, at times, questioning the proposals/bills made by the government and the House of Commons. Overall, a part-elected, part-appointed chamber would have greater democratic legitimacy than the current arrangements and the fact that many members would be appointed would prevent too much party domination. ...read more.

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