Thursday, October 14, 1999 Published at 15:09 GMT 16:09 UK
Your views on the Lords
The government has decided to get rid of around half of the existing members of the House of Lords, but has not yet decided with what to replace them.
How would you like to see the Lords evolve over the next year?
Send us your views by clicking here.
The House of Lords should go into the trash can of history. It has no place in a genuine democracy.
The House of Lords is a living testament to royal bastardy, robber baronry, social exclusion, political patronage and downright cronyism. It should left as it is, an example to us all that
power still remains in the hands of a few privileged people.
It is necessary to have to houses, in order to maintain some balance, particularly when the government has a large majority. However, party politics in the upper house has the potential to become ludicrous.
For example in the USA there are periods where nothing can be done because one party rules one house and the opposition rules the other house. There is essentially a deadlock on all issues until the next election.
The challenge is to find a non-partisan system of representation. Perhaps people should be banned from the Lords (or whatever we call the new house) if they have represented, ran as a representative of, or contributed financially to, any of the political parties.
Granted this would be a challenge to set up, but it would give us a house where representatives (elected for 6 year terms?) voted according to their own conscience and the wishes of their region rather than what one person (the party leader) has decreed should be the case.
Party politics can never be democratic: it is at best a means of electing a dictator for a limited term.
The House of Lords is surely the balance between the elected parliament and the people. Wasn't that why it was formed ? The system is not perfect but it's worked for hundreds of years. "If it ain't broke why fix it"? and I don't think the Lords is "broke".
I believe that the House of Lords should be reformed. It is a well known fact that at present it is unrepresentative, undemocratic and has an in built Tory majority. At a time of increased use of referenda and increased reform in general anyone can see that the House of Lords has far too much power.
How can a body with the power to delay legislation, prevent the elected House of Commons from having their own way? Our politics lecturer at the St.Ivo institute of Cambridgeshire is a firm believer that the world would be a much better place if the lords didn't come to Parliament, and drunk port instead.
I would like to see a reformed House of Lords being wholly elected (what's wrong with democracy?)
But I believe that there is merit in some of the members being elected not on the basis of geographic constituencies by rather by various interest groups/professional bodies etc. So that the TUC or the BMA or the Institution of Electrical Engineers or the churches have some say.
People belong to various communities not just based on where they live. I am particularly keen to see professional politicians removed from the second chamber. The idea of elevating ex-cabinet ministers is a bad idea. We need a counter balance not a re-enforcer of the House of Commons.
The idea of members being appointed by the PM or by some committee of good and great smacks of corruption and patronage and is a really bad idea too.
I feel this jury-rigging of the House of Lords is merely a political expedient. The great debate is over the party orientation of these Lords. As an American, I am sorry to see this part of British tradition go.
The House of Lords has served Britain fairly well over the years. However, the changes that need to be made, should be proposed before the Lords leave, not afterwards. It is very likely that the House of Lords could be turned into the prime minister's puppet. I do think however
that devolution for Scotland and Wales was a good step
I would like to get rid of both Houses and give the leadership back to the Monarchy.
Arbitrary selection via an accident of birth may be no less fair than voluntary selection via a desire for power.
I wouldn't want to get bogged down in the detail of what might or might not work. I would say two things:
Any change should be geared towards protecting people's rights. We don't want a situation where two elected chambers both simply echo popular prejudice; what would be the point?
A second chamber should be given a written charter laying down the principles by which it should accept or reject laws (for example, rejecting interference with court verdicts for political reasons, as we have seen with the release of IRA terrorists) and be expected to stick to it regardless of whether it suited the government of the day.
Any change should be put to popular vote in a referendum, such as we've seen in Scotland or Wales for constitutional change there. It's hard to suggest that this is less important. If the people voted to retain the current system, complete with hereditary peers, this would immediately remove any arguments about their legitimacy, which so far as
I can see is the only reason that anyone's advanced for change.