Should we reform the house of Lords?

Arguments for and against an elected second chamber.

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Should we reform of the House of Lords?
Blair's Labour government of 1997 made some quite radical changes to the House of
Lords, in getting rid of all but 92 of the hereditary peers. There was talks of a stage 2 of
the Lords reform, which would include making the Lords chamber more democratic in
the form of an elected/partly elected chamber. However, as there weren't any
blueprints as such, on how exactly it should become more democratic, or what it would
entail, stage 2 never went ahead. Nevertheless, the debate still stands on whether we
should have an elected chamber.
Arguments for a fully elected Arguments against a fully elected
chamber chamber
Democratic legitimacy. An elected Loss of valuable appointed members.
chamber would be more in touch with the Many peers stand in the Lords as experts
people and could be held to account by the from their field e.g. Lord Sugar for
electorate, which means all politicians business, or representing a group from
involved in legislating would be answerable society, so you would potentially lose the
for their actions. expertise that they offer. Also, peers who
Stronger check on commons power. are there on the basis of appointment are
Would raise the Lords' democratic more able to be independent than those
authority and legitimacy so they can more who are elected.
effectively check government power and Would challenge Commons authority. If
prevent 'elective dictatorship' in the Lords has greater democratic status, could
commons. challenge the authority of commons and
Wider representation. A different voting end up with political deadlock. Currently
system to FPTP could be used in the Lords the Commons and Lords complement each
Chamber to offer better representation in other ­ Commons expresses popular
the second chamber, perhaps regional authority whilst Lords acts as a revising
elections which would complement chamber.
devolution. PR election of House of Lords Voter apathy. Voter turnout for Commons
could also break down the duopoly of the elections is already low and by offering yet
two main parties in the Lords. another set of elections, you risk causing
A partly elected chamber would offer an voter fatigue and losing the interest of the
independent element. It would be electorate. Would also risk encouraging
assumed that all the remaining members partisanship, where members of the house
who are appointed would act as rely on their party being elected and
cross-benchers, with no party allegiance. supporting the party leader in hope of
Therefore, a partly elected chamber could promotion (party 'hacks'), whereas an
be seen to offer 'the best of both worlds' ­ appointed chamber encourages peers to
democratic legitimacy as well as appointed think independently, not just in the way of
members being able to act independently. their party.
No need, Stage 1 was sufficient. By
removing the hereditary peers, the
chamber has new status and credit. No
faction now dominates the chamber; it has
successfully challenged government on a
number of occasions and public opinion
polls suggest that it is in touch with the
national mood.

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