Covid – 19 – Lockdown has given me the opportunity to think deeply about House of Lords reform. There have been many calls over the years for this to be done.
The Lords includes much professional expertise and in-depth regional knowledge. But it does so despite the way in which new members are selected -rather than because of it.
The problems are seen as:
– It is considered to be too big.
– that Life Membership blocks all but the smallest opportunity to refresh it -even with retirements.
– that the appointment of major donors to political parties brings the Lords into disrepute.
– There is no direct “voice of business” in the Lords or the Commons.
– There is a strong desire to find a way to level up and give the regions a voice.
However, the Lords often does perform well as a second chamber, where the value of independent minds and its share of countrywide experience is recognised and cherished.
It is accepted that a Second Chamber of Parliament is needed as an essential check on the Commons, and that the remit of the Lords – to scrutinise and revise – should remain unchanged.
The Challenge is to devise a Second Chamber: – which is regularly refreshed – encompasses expertise and experience from across the country – is as large as is sensible.
It is recognised that some element of political leadership and representation will be necessary.