The Second House

It is amazing how many people do not understand the role of the second house. When you say the House of Lords they think of hereditary peerages and old boys clubs, but this makes up a tiny fraction of the house in modern times. For those looking to learn about the house of lords we recommend the recent BBC Documentary series Meet the Lords.

With  almost 800 members the house of lords is wildly out of control and expensive. Radical reform is needed. It should not be the politicians retirement home it has become. Instead it should be full of individuals who have shown great skill and merit in their areas of expertise. The size of the house has become unwieldy and must be brought back under control, progress is already being made on this front. Is this far and fast enough? Should a modern house of lords should look similar in size to the house of commons?

We would suggest rather than publicly elected officials, individuals would have to be proposed to a cross party committee reflecting the current commons. An individual wishing to join, should have contributed to the country and possess large amounts of industry knowledge. Their membership reviewed every 5 years, with a default of rejection. No automatic inclusion for religious figures or inherited peerages. Members must meet certain commitments or suffer fines and expulsions that are much more freely enacted.

The house needs to be made up of a broad spectrum of experience and knowledge from different sectors across the country. Thereby allowing it to offer informed advice and amendments to policy. Its entrance committee should take into account the balance of those whose are already members.

None of these suggestions will come as a surprise to those in political circles. They have been gathering dust in a broom cupboard for years. Prime ministers and governments fear taking on the second house. It can look like they are circumventing due process and exerting their will. However the public appetite is there for this. A party that laid out a progressive modern plan for the house of lords in its election manifesto would earn votes.