Sunday, June 05, 2011

A reformed Lords that builds on best practice

It is now widely accepted that good governance requires that 50% of the Board of a company should be Independent Directors. The same principle should be applied to reform of the House of Lords.

Rather than a complex and expensive new electoral system which creates hundreds of paid "full time parliamentarians" the Lords should consist of 200 Independent Peers and 200 Political Peers, with each party allowed 2 Peers for each % of the vote cast in the last General Election. 

Peers should retire by lot so that there is a reasonable turnover - say  5-10% per annum.  The Independent Peers should elect their own members, rather like the Royal Society, though I agree that the 12 Bishops should be kept as part of their number and I'd add the Presidents of the RS, the BA, the Royal Academy of Engineering, the Academy of Medical Sciences and the Vice-Chancellors of the top 8 Universities.  Party Leaders should only be able to appoint Peers to fill vacancies in their allowances.  Ministers who are not MPs or Peers should be allowed to attend the House of Lords and speak in the debates but not vote. There would also be much to be said for requiring the Board of each Ministry to contain two Independent Peers.

This reform would achieve all the desirable objectives of the proposed 175 page draft bill at a fraction of the cost, whilst retaining the outstanding quality and independence of the best Peers which makes the House of Lords so distinctively valuable.  In particular under this scheme 94% of the Peers could be said to be elected and the balance of the political parties would be exactly represented.

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