Two recent articles on this topic:
Diversity and democracy: Reforming the Lords by Patrick McGlinchey at Left Foot Forward.
The inclusion in the white paper of a 20 per cent appointed chamber option is a cause for concern. However, it is the proposal to allow 12 Church of England bishops to retain their seats as Lords Spiritual that could fundamentally hold the House of Lords back from democratisation and diversification.
To give special law-making privileges to one faith group over all others is almost unheard of among democratic nations
Indeed, the only global equivalent is the ‘Islamic Consultative Assembly of Iran’, which gives Islamic clerics similar privileges to Church of England bishops. In modern Britain, this system is clearly an outdated one which does not enjoy the support of our citizens.
An ICM poll commissioned by the Joseph Roundtree Reform Trust as part of the Power 2010 political reform initiative found that two-thirds of the public think anyone who sits in the House for Lords and votes on laws should be elected, and 70 per cent of Christians believe it is wrong that some Church of England bishops are given an automatic seat in parliament…
Their Lordships should beware: there is an overwhelming consensus behind Lords reform by Alan Renwick at Reading Politics (A blog of the Department of Politics and International Relations at the University of Reading.)
The government launched its proposals for reform of the House of Lords two weeks ago. At the time, there were widespread rumours that senior Labour and Conservative peers were gearing up to scupper the plans. A survey of peers reported in The Times this week appears to confirm this: 80 per cent of the peers who responded said they opposed a wholly or largely elected second chamber.
As The Times points out, if peers do indeed choose to oppose the government’s plans, they will be acting counter to the manifestos of all three main parties in last year’s general election. Labour promised “to create a fully elected Second Chamber” (in stages). The Liberal Democrats, similarly, pledged to “replace the House of Lords with a fully-elected second chamber”. The Conservatives were only slightly less reformist, saying, “We will work to build a consensus for a mainly-elected second chamber to replace the current House of Lords”.
But peers tempted to flex their muscles on this issue should be aware that the consensus across the parties surrounding House of Lords reform runs much deeper than this…