There are three options for an upper house; elected, appointed or mixed. The problem with an elected upper house is that we create a rival to the Commons with democratic legitimacy - less easy to uphold the supremacy of the people, particularly if upper house members are not elected for life. Appointed runs into the familiar problems of opening an honourable system to the faecal touch of the political hand, unless appointments and all influence over them is removed from politicians.
I have already suggested that we rescue our honours system from political debasement by banning politicians from anything above BEM. In return, we should create a new, special order for political service limited to say 100 members appointed for life with annual nominations to any vacancies by the sitting prime minister, but with no rights for the order to sit in an upper chamber. They would get colourful cod-mediaeval robes, a glittery breast star, post-nominals and a church service once a year with the sovereign. Candidates should be limited to Privy Councillors, to restrain the basest instincts of prime ministers to pay back big favours.
The much needed renovation of the palace of Westminster offers a useful opportunity to start the change. While works take place at the east end, the Commons should move into the Lords chamber and take over their offices and canteens. The Lords can go to the Excel exhibition centre in Docklands, fitted out as a chamber in that ghastly EU semi-circular configuration as a lesson in how we should never adopt this style for the Commons.
It's high time we bit the bullet on this. The Lords must go.
|Would you really want to shake Lord Rennard's hand? Without gloves?|