The House of Lords: A Case for Radical Reform | Lewis Bates
The House of Lords has been a heated topic for quite some time, especially regarding the continuation of its existence. It is important to convey the purpose of the house and how it functions before discussing the future of it. The House currently serves as the second chamber of the British Parliament, consisting of life peers, hereditary peers and bishops. Life peers are appointed by the Prime Minister but can also be proposed by the opposition. Proposed laws are firstly discussed in the Commons and if passed, are sent to the Lords to be discussed in which amendments can be made, if the proposed law is successful after amendments in both the Commons and Lords – it is then implemented into law, following Royal Assent. The House of Lords also regularly makes investigations into pressing issues as well as acting as an efficient backstop and power check against the House of Commons.
There are three potentials routes that we can explore regarding the House of Lords. We can support it’s present-form, advocate for radical reform or endorse the abolition of the House outright. Figures on the Left of the political spectrum often advocate for abolition, which is naturally opposed by the Right, regularly defending the present version of the House. However, the position of the Right is untenable and wholly forgets the Conservative tradition of pragmatism; the current version of the House has a limited time remaining before the mob forces either it’s democratisation or outright abolition. The third position of radical reform should be given a great deal of thought by both the Right and Left – it has the most likely potential to save the House.
Conservatives have the ability to help save the House – but we should recognise the current trend and take a pragmatic approach to it. I believe the correct pragmatic course of action is radical reform. This is not an issue that will simply disappear but rather one that is a growing and pressing issue – should Conservatives seek to save it at all they would rethink their stance.
The Left should also re-elaborate their positioning on the issue because the abolition movement is based on a major misconception; that the Lords serve no purpose. This is far from the truth for reasons described in the opening paragraph. I for one am not in favour of tearing things down that serve a valid purpose even if I historically disagree with them if there is a solution of radical reform.
We should seek to completely scrap life peers and hereditary peers in favour of experts appointed by an independent body – with experts being given a chance to speak to the House on their respective field. I would support the continued existence of Bishops in the House of Lords but additionally added other religious figures to be more representative of the present population.
Religious leaders would be essential in representing their own respective communities on relevant issues. This would provide many communities with a new-found voice that could completely change the perception of the House of Lords in the public consciousness from an outdated relic of the past to a modern chamber of government attempting to improve our system.
Experts appointed by an independent body based on their respective field also have the ability to further change public opinion on the House of Lords. Rather than the chamber largely consisting of individuals that have gained their position due to either their family standing or ties with political parties, experts would be appointed solely on merit. Thus, the relevant education on pressing issues would be far greater than it presently is among current Lords. For example, when discussing a technology-related issue, a technology expert would be rather more informative and educated on the subject than a formerly elected MP that has little to no real education in said field.
This proposition for radical reform not only has the ability to potentially save the House from it’s impending downfall but also increase the efficiency and productivity of it too. It would remove failed politicians that are granted life peers out of personal sympathy from the equation, many of whom bring very little to the table and thus are part of the problem. Instead of the House’s occupants often being actively despised politicians, in this proposed reform, we could have experts in their respective fields that bring previously unfounded legitimacy and credibility.
Photo by UK Parliament on Flickr.