BBC NEWS
BBCi CATEGORIES   TV   RADIO   COMMUNICATE   WHERE I LIVE   INDEX    SEARCH 

BBC News UK Edition
 You are in: Special Report: 1999: 01/99: Lords reform  
News Front Page
World
UK
England
N Ireland
Scotland
Wales
UK Politics
Business
Entertainment
Science/Nature
Technology
Health
Education
-------------
Talking Point
-------------
Country Profiles
In Depth
-------------
Programmes
-------------
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
CBBC News
SERVICES
-------------
EDITIONS
Lords reform Monday, 7 February, 2000, 12:18 GMT
Your views on Lords reform
Time for a change, or better left?
The UK Government has expelled over 600 hereditary peers from Parliament, but it is yet to make clear its intentions on what the second stage of Lords reform should be.

This is your chance to make your views heard on the reform of the House of Lords.

To send in your emails to News Online please fill out the form below. To read your reaction so far, click here.

Name:
Location:
Your Email Address:
Comments:


 
The BBC will put up as many of your comments as possible, but we cannot guarentee that all e-mails will be published. The BBC reserves the right to edit comments that are published.


Your Reaction:

As a world history teacher, I find this debate very interesting. I am fascinated to find out how things are going to change. My students are following this debate and are excited to see its outcome. Change is always good. It keeps things interesting.
Our government and constitution were written on the basis of your Parliament. Originally, our Senate was not elected by the voters but by the States' Governments. We have since deemed it necessary to amend the procedure. Senators are now elected by the people. This system has worked for over two centuries. How about taking a lesson from the lessons learned two hundred years ago. Use our Senate and how they are elected as a guide, of course changing it to meet the needs of your country.
Yvonne Orton, Florida

I have two points I would like to bring up in support of a mostly appointed House of Lords. One is that the best government ministers may in some cases not be the same people who are most adept at winning elections.

In making appointments the government would be free to select people from diverse backgrounds with a range of skills, rather than filling it solely with career politicians. The other is that, living in the US, I am quite dismayed at the amount US congressmen have to pander to the people.

A professional, appointed House of Lords offers the opportunity to have a political body close enough to the people to have to follow their general wishes and ideology, but far enough removed that they can take positions on specific issues that may be beneficial to the UK in the long term, but unpopular in the short term.
C Hicks, Pasadena, USA

I just don't see the point in having a second batch of policy makers at all, especially if they are un-elected. The responsibility for a healthy democracy lies with the voter not with some retirement-home tacked on to Westminster. If a government is a bad one, simply elect a different one, that's the whole point of the democratic system!!!
Will, Staffordshire, England

I believe that the Labour Party is making progressive changes for an informative age. The removal of hereditary peers in Parliament proves that New Labour is changing political management and realising that a democratic society is far more important than traditional beliefs.

Reforms in Parliament will hopefully be the start to a more citizen orientated government based on general elections not on family trees. I envision a more productive government with the changes within Parliament.
Monica Escalante, University of Sheffield

My view is that we should ban anybody between the ages of 28 and 55 from the new chamber. Because these are the people who are often alienated from political decision making. It would also make the upper chamber distinctly different. We need young people because they are the future and we need older people because they have the wisdom of hindsight. Lets ban the 29-54 year olds!!! (and I speak as a 41 year old).

Jon, Oxford

I am deeply disappointed with Lord Wakeham's report. That only a tiny minority of members are to be elected is most undemocratic and insulting to the British people. We should now be debating how many members the reformed house should have and how they are to be elected. I suspect that a great opportunity for constitutional reform has been ruined.
Bryan Lewis, Wolverhampton

The second house should be senatorial and elected on a rolling basis, like local councils, so that it never ends up a rubber stamp of the Commons. It should be biased to the regions, so that it may counterbalance any Commons that wished to introduce measures that disadvantaged different regions of the country.

Two representatives per county wouldn't be a bad idea. But this old, irritating and decidedly patronising notion that the executive always knows best is just plain ridiculous. We need government by a system, in which individuals take part, rather than government by individuals with evermore hostility to constitutional method and the plurality in decision making that this inevitably entails - it is time for Britain to finally grow up.
John Davey, London

Lord Wakeham's report is merely a "politically correct" mistake to reforming a house that seemed to work quite well. How did we reach a point where most people, correctly, do not trust elected politicians yet argue for an elected Lords?
Tom Montemarano, Newfield, NJ USA

I agree with the recent analysis by Mr John Major of Mr Tony Blair's changes to the constitution. At best it is 'inexperienced' government with no vision of long term implications. At worst it is dangerous power building using 'divide and rule' tactics.
Jenny W, London UK

I think the Lords should be elected (out of government control). But to make them different to the Commons, we need another electoral system. I suggest a simple (10,000 votes and your in ) system as this can favour minorities , and everybody gets someone they voted for.
David Green, Shrewsbury

I think that the House of Lords should be totally removed and there should be a UK regional senate elected by the people of the whole of the United Kingdom. Also the UK should have a written constitution, but we should leave our Queen alone!
Paul, Northern Ireland, United Kingdom

The reforms appear to be removing democracy rather than increasing it.

Committees appointing people to go to parliament is the Soviet system unless I am mistaken. A Soviet was the name for a system where committees appoint higher committees and effectively produce a 1 party state.

Who will appoint the commission - the government of the day?
Mark Nadel, Reading

So it seems that the new House of Lords will be filled by political appointees (the independent commission will be political appointees, so I'm sure they'll get all their mates in). I'm sure Tony Blair is happy that he'll be able to fill it with Yes people; hopefully they'll give him a shock, but I doubt it. It is another step down the road to T.Blairs vision of no-one arguing with him or his cronies.
C Wills, Glasgow

The second chamber should be 25% directly elected by PR, and 75% indirectly elected so as to both represent groups of influence and expertise, and to give it a parliamentary lack of credibility so as to ensure that it can never challenge the commons and cause governmental gridlock. The indirectly elected groups should include doctors, nurses, unions, teachers, bankers and businessmen, and cutting edge scientists so that we are in a far better position as a country to scrutinise legislation that affects particular areas, thus turning the Lords into an expert advisory body, with a good deal of generalised knowledge too.
Michael Heeneman, UCL

Surely in a "democratic" society a proportionately elected body should be in power. I must also ask why ethnic minorities are so under-represented.
Craig Campbell

One of the best things this government has done so far, it should have been done years ago, for the sake of democracy.
Nick Hirst, Cumbria

By destroying its historical legitimacy, the Lords is weakened. So by giving it no more powers for rigorous scrutiny of bills, despite some democratic make up is unforgivable. Tony Blair wants a PR friendly second chamber, but one that has no real teeth. A typical new Labour fudge, designed to please everybody, but in fact pleasing no one. It is all very well to use such spurious political machinations on "Richard and Judy", but to do it to our historically proud constitution is unforgivable. Either give us a real second chamber that can really call the executive to account, or leave well alone.
Nick, UK

The second chamber of Parliament should be elected. It may be appropriate for it to be elected on a regional basis, but the idea that only a minority should be elected is a nonsense. The concept of appointments to law making bodies is flawed. The second chamber will remain the out-of-touch incidental side-show that it is now unless it is directly elected
Peter Barnett, Darlington, Co Durham

The government must ensure that an independent body is formed - particularly not voted by Parliament.
Hancox Culkerton

The house of Lords is a vital part of our British history. Please leave it alone. Not everything needs to be "reformed".
Lindsey Clark, North Carolina. USA

Who will hold the non-elected peers (senators or whatever) to account for their decisions which will influence laws of the land? Will a largely unelected chamber have any more legitimacy than the present set-up? Furthermore, why won't the government give the people the opportunity to decide in a multi-optioned referendum on reform?

P.S. To people from other countries; this is really none of your business. We are perfectly capable of acknowledging our own constitutional problems. The fact that we have never had a totally "clean slate" via a (proper) revolution or liberation doesn't mean we have no idea about what constitutes a liberal democracy!!!
Reg Aldermans, UK

The Royal Commission recommends a statutory minimum of 30% women, fair representation for ethnic minority groups, and a broader range of religious representation. All this in addition to reflecting the votes cast at the general election. I would be very interested to know the reasoning behind the idea that 30% represents a "fair" proportion of women. I would also anticipate that trying to effect the balance that has been prescribed will be almost impossible to implement, and result in the search for composite characters that fill meet the required characteristics; - a female, Buddhist, Asian Cconservative. Far too complicated - let's just elect the whole lot.
Helen Heenan, Hemel Hempstead

We already have one democratically elected house. Surely the purpose of a second house is to ensure that decisions made by government are not just made in the interests of winning the votes of a majority but are also made with proper analysis of the facts as analysed by members who need have no 'vote winning' ulterior motive. Their positions should not be under threat if they tell some unpalatable home truths to the electorate that would perhaps prevent them from being democratically elected. It is important that the Lords be selected on a different basis to the Commons in order that there be as many different perspectives as possible in debates and discussions over government policy.
David O'Sullivan, London

This is just another way that the Mr. Blair is trying to kill the living history of the last graceful country in the world. Next thing he will try to relieve your great Queen of her duties. I think that it is sad how the public talks so bad about a person who has given up her entire life in the service to her country.
Luke Billeri, United States

It is essential that we have a second legislative house to ensure that legislation is fair and just. It is not acceptable that legislation becomes a matter solely for the House of Commons, without the House of Lords, legislation can be passed that has not been scrutinised fully by a body not controlled by the government.
Giles Bertenshaw

The peers do a fine job in checking governments of all persuasions and should not be attacked like this by President Blair. However, if we must remove them, then do not replace them with Tony's cronies, but with democratically elected members - I am interested in the idea of a "Union House". The Tories are spot on with this one.
Antony Little, Uxbridge, Middlesex

Am I right in thinking that the incorporation of the European Convention on Human Rights into UK law is what has provoked this? Why hasn't the media got onto this one?
Jeanette Russell, UK

It takes a very courageous leader to make such historic changes to the British political system and if Blair feels he is able to make that change and justify himself then I think it is time we started to listen to reasoning rather than just attacking blindly! There is nothing wrong in getting rid of unelected and undemocratic Lords in order to introduce a more democratic system.
Rhaynukaa Mehta, UK

The reformed chamber should consist of a variety of representative elements, eg a number of representatives from the regions, representation from the devolved assemblies, representation from the police; from the civil service; from local government; from the Greater London Assembly ; and from some ordinary people.
YHK, Bradford England

Why do we need a second chamber? If reform means a directly elected second house - they will want some power to reject government legislation. Are we not a mature enough democracy to be able to cope with one house?

The most useful reform, it seems to me is regional government throughout England. The devolution of regional matters should be the priority.
Phil Rackley, Basildon

I think that getting rid of the hereditary peers at the house of Lords is an absolute and utter disgrace. It is another attempt by Tony Blair to modernise this great country which is cemented in history and tradition.

In my view the peers are an excellent example of British heritage and most of them are great Tory men.
Ross Potter, Aberdeen

I support Mr Blair's reforms on the House of Lords. The House of Lords before the reforms was clearly one of the least democratic institutions in the world of democracy. The concept of hereditary seats in the House of Lords, where national policies are decided, contradicts the idea of democracy, which says that people should have absolute rights to determine their own affairs. The right to have more power and privilege by birth also seems to challenge the principal of equality. Therefore, the reduction of hereditary seats in Mr Blair's reforms is quite reasonable.
Harrison Tang, California, USA

Do you think that there is any merit in the suggestion that this government in its dealing with England is over-enamoured of the idea that "The Man in Whitehall Knows Best"?
Stephen Tilley

The most important factor that sets out the House of Lords from the Commons is the aspect of "Crossbenchers" i.e. Independents who stand apart from any party. I am convinced that this element must be retained in the House of Lords but do people seriously expect a government that will be in power (let's face it) for another six-seven years will let that element remain.
Those in the know have already found out what the Royal Commission on reform is going to suggest. And that Tony Blair Peter Mandelson and Jack Straw are opposed to those suggestions. Right! I'm off to read thirty odd pages of debate freshly printed.
Adrian Rammelt, London

Blair presses on with his headstrong agenda, completely missing the point that the Lords provided an invaluable buffer to parliamentary tyranny, as they had no political axe to grind. Six hundred years of British history down the drain. What's next, the monarchy?
Charles Hayden-Gilbert, Wales

Why not make Lords the "Union House"? The present Commons would evolve into a purely English Parliament, and the Upper Chamber would become a kind of Union Senate -- each constituent assembly (Scotland, England, Wales, and Northern Ireland) would appoint a certain number of Lords to represent them in it. It would overarch the regional parliaments as the body responsible for what ever pertains to the UK as a whole.
Daniel A. Reynolds, Washington, DC USA

Having an unelected body governing this country is simple preposterous, it's harking back to dark times where pomp and peerage gallop on the freedom for democracy. In a nutshell, the Lords are no more valuable than an idle & swindling senile old man. How anyone can even begin to justify having any kind of power just because of their family history is simply absurd. For a country where every person is supposed equal money seems to buy someone a lot of power. It needs to stop. Forever.
Alex White, Bath

The House of Lords has been in place as a safe guard against democracy. The masses can often be easily swayed which can lead to hasty and irrational decisions by those in the House of Commons who have to answer to their voters.
The hereditary peers however are free from political process; free to make any decision that their conscience dictates. The hereditary peers are a necessary check and balance against majority rule. Without them, legislation can be passed without the proper opposition to it.
Daniel Fort Worth, TX USA

The reform of the Lords is a disgrace. To think that the Commons dare to hold to the view that they are a paragon of democracy and have to the right to reform the Lords in this shoddy manner whilst the Commons itself remains as the most confrontational, inefficient and anachronistic excuse for a "democratic chamber" on the entire planet!
So many people have missed the point of the Lords. The point is that the second chamber is DIFFERENT to the Commons. We don't need a second democratic chamber to duplicate the Commons. I for one have far more faith in the Monarchy and the Hereditary Peers than I do in the House of Commons. The former two don't pretend to be something that they are not.
Michael Kilpatrick, Cambridge,UK

Tony Blair appears to only favour the parts of democracy that suit him best (an example being the current mayoral elections). Tailoring our constitution to advance his centrist political aims is an act of vandalism against our country.
Steven Clarke Manchester, England

About time! Time for a coup d'etat minus violence? Anything to avoid watching a third King Charles crowned to embarrass our nation further.
Peter S, Bradford, Yorkshire

It is unbelievable to think that these people have managed to survive 700 days, never mind years. The greatest reform since Asquith presented the Parliament Act has been a while in coming. Tony Blair has kept his pledge to reform (and hopefully end) a contrived and unfair means of power, that of the hereditary principle. The Lords had become a mere figurehead over Parliament, and their cost did not reap rewards.

Now we have a golden chance to completely reform the constitution of this country; let us hope that we see sense and take it.
Mark G, Newcastle upon Tyne

I'm an Italian citizen so I'm not directly involved in the British political debate. I am leftist, so tend against hereditary privileges, but I'm against the Labour reforms because:
1. It's not democratic to remove an institution only because it does not agree with government's politics
2. It's not democratic to change an unwritten constitution against the opinion of the major opposition party. The rules or are the same for all, and all must accept them.
Marco Cucchini, Italy

Great, now we are going to get an unelected assembly filled with Labour cronies ! What's the difference? I say it should be elected, similarly to the Senate system.
Bruce V Fox, Dorset

Dear Sir I am in favour of a reformed House of Lords, however, the Labour Party cannot or will not tell us what is to replace that institution. What really concerns me is the lack of interest shown by the media, including the BBC, to advise the electorate what is going on under their noses.

We have seen too much coverage of the referendum in Australia to maintain the Queen as head of state, why not peruse answers from the government in the same way so that we are informed. Is there a news blackout commanded by the Labour Party? Where are the comments from our great political commentators have they been warned off the subject by Jay, or are the Labour Party confident that the great British public don't care and feel they can get away with anything. The idea of an appointed second house smells of back door dictatorship, why are the people not allowed to vote for their ELECTED representative in the second house.
Yours sincerely, P.T Coade

The House of Lords is clearly unrepresentative. The only people who really seem to think it isn't are a few Americans who seem to want to keep Britain as some kind of quaint tourist attraction. However, there is a real problem with what to replace it with.

We don't want to create a second elected chamber, as that might give rise to "gridlock" where one party dominates one chamber and another the other chamber. A fully appointed second chamber is also unpopular for other reasons, it's undemocratic and anyone who thinks that so called "experts" can offer a uniquely intelligent perspective should just look at what some of the life peers have come out with during debates.

One option however, has been almost virtually overlooked and that is to take a leaf from ancient Athens. Athenian democracy was based on the Assembly (or Ecclesia as it was known) where all citizens met and voted on policy and the council of 500 (or Boule) that set the agenda for assembly meetings and whose members were chosen by lot.

Why could not the occupants of the newly reformed upper house be chosen by lot, like the Athenian Boule? This would give a wide-ranging sample of the population, be truly representative and ensure party politics did not interfere in policy. Members could serve for a period of one year, thus ensuring that a wide range of citizens were involved, which would have the added benefit of ensuring a wide range of the populace felt included in the political system.
James Pierson, London

What fabulous news! Only 92 left.The Monarchy next ... citizens, we can only hope.
Alex

Tony Blair is selling-out the people of Britain and the Crown in order to bring Britain in line with dictates handed down by Brussels. That is treason and Lord Burford is correct.
Michael Pisapia, New York City

It takes so much money to run for political office these days that real independence (from monetary interests, influence, etc.) is not likely to occur. It is a pity you are removing the only persons who, having no fear of losing their seats, are truly free to follow their consciences rather than their wallets. I am all for democratic ideals, but surely there could have been "elections of peers" rather than an elimination of them.
Anna Ciara L. Laurellyn Texas, USA

It seems ironic that Margaret Jay should be playing such a prominent role in the reform of the House of Lords. After all, she has not been democratically elected by anyone. To have her lecture people on democracy is really quite surreal.
Here we have a person who owes her position to political patronage. This makes her no better than the very people she is getting replaced. When the history is written about the current constitutional reforms, only a fool will fail to recognise the methods, and motivations, that are the hallmark of totalitarian regimes the world over.
J Rimmer

In addition to nomination and election there is an as yet unexplored 'third way' to construct a second chamber of parliament, namely by random selection from the whole adult population.
This method would surely provide the most representative upper house of all, not only accurately reflecting the British people by gender, race, socio-economic grouping, political persuasion etc. But also by containing very few, if any, professional politicians. There are enough of those already in the Commons!
Dr. Stephen G. Clackson, Burrowbridge, Somerset

Clearly Lords reform is long overdue. The really pathetic part of all this is that we are still considering keeping the House of Lords as an institution, as if all it needed was this little bit of reform.
The last vestiges of the feudal era need to be abolished. Develop a new representative body for a second chamber -people not distinguished by birth or the land their parents once owned or the political favours they performed but people of genuine merit --from ALL social classes not just the monied and propertied ones.
Toby Farrnsworth, USA

I would like to point out a few things to the Americans who have trouble understanding why we wish to abolish this part of our heritage. This unelected body has the power to delay and prevent legislation that the people of Britain have voted for!
They do not represent the population at all, consisting mainly of older, white, upper middle to upper class men! What about the rest of us? I do believe that we should have a second chamber, one that has time to check and amend bills that have been hastily passed through the first stage of the legislation process, but it should be ELECTED! And representative of the population, and hopefully elected with a fairer system than the "first past the post" system that is in operation for the election of the British government.
We defiantly should have a referendum on this issue, and the public should be informed of both sides of this argument before they are asked to vote either way.
Jennifer Klimowicz America (Brit recently married a yank)

As a Parliamentary Assistant to a Canadian MP (and previously as a Legislative Assistant to the Leader of the Government in the Senate), I would advise that, for any new but non-elected British Upper House:
1- any new member must not be appointed solely by your Prime Minister (as in my country were patronage is overwhelming!). Think about giving to the Commons' Official Opposition Leader a veto on all appointments.
2- all appointments should be a non-renewable mandate of two Parliaments. This way, the members of your second chamber will have the chance of being more independent of party line.
3- give each house the power to review, delay or kill any regulation presented by the government.
I pray that your new Upper House will make your democracy stronger - and serve as an example, again, for all countries.
L Lalonge LaSalle, Canada

As an American, it was fascinating, yet so very sad to watch a great nation betray its history by banishing some of the great family names that made it great.
For a nation so steeped in tradition and history to turn its back on it's past is really rather pathetic. The very dedicated and thankless task performed for so many years by hereditary peers has been subjected to ridicule by many in your country who seem to have less appreciation for your traditions and history than some of your cousins on this side of the pond.
The Lords, as it was constituted was a wonderful consultative body that should never have been politicized. Is a stronger, partially elected upper chamber going to mesh well with the Commons? This is a Pandora's box that many might wish had never been unsealed.
J.A. Maksym, Arlington VA

The House of Lords has provided a sense of stability and continuity to our country for hundreds of years. This change, and the elimination of the hereditary principle mark a transition of a notion of elites based on land and hereditary right to an elite based on popular support and more basically money.
Maybe the system was overdue to be phased out but it may well also mark the transition to a more turbulent and fast moving politics in the UK. This could be good or it could be disastrous I've yet to make up my mind on this.
Mark Summers, Berkshire, UK

Remove all hereditary peers and anyone else who feels they should have influence over other peoples lives without earning their privileged position. My father is a consultant doctor, should I inherit his status by default?..Of course not!
Gemma Brunswick, Watford

As the eldest son of a hereditary peer one would think that I should want the hereditary principle to continue. I love politics it is one of my greatest passions and I am saddened that I will not get to take my seat in the house. Yet we are now entering the year 2000 and democracy has to modernise to stay alive and for the people to feel that Parliament is there to serve them not itself. I welcome the change and look forward to a reformed Second Chamber.
James Graham, Scotland

It is interesting how many of those people who are upset at our loss of tradition are American (or other non-UK). Well I'm sorry but the UK is not a museum for Americans to come over & say "how quaint" - there's 55 million people here who are ultimately ruled by an undemocratic body.

There is no reason on earth why this should stay. People say it has worked well - I disagree - many unpopular policies have been pushed through it - such as the poll-tax, privatisation of the railways, beef-on-the-bone. Let the people decide!
Matt Robbins, London

To my fellow Yankees, Ok everybody, pay attention. We Americans can type our little hearts out, telling the British "If it ain't broke...don't fix it." And it's very sound advice. But every time we say anything, there will always be an "eminent" political scholar who will write a rebuttal basically stating that Americans should "butt out" because we know nothing about British politics.

Alas. Well, on a lighter note. We know something they don't know. We know that when our wonderfully "democratic" (and British) forefathers created our government, they did it with the British government in mind. We also know that the Senate is not a wonderful thing, because it is controlled by special interest groups.

Of course, that really doesn't even matter because Tony Blair's plan is to have a house of yes men. Gee, good old Tony is doing something Clinton only dreams about, getting rid of an entire conservative house.

Anyway, to make a long story short. I say that we stop saying anything. Let us just sit back and watch the "new, improved" Britain crash and burn in an inferno of buzz words and catch phrases. We can all smile, smug in the knowledge that, for all of it's problems, our nation will never be as screwed up as Britain.
Emily (Columbus, Ohio)

It is not widely known that hereditary peers are entitled to claim "expenses" of about 100 per day simply for turning up at the House of Lords and having a drink with their friends. I can think of at least two or three such gentlemen who have never had any form of proper job, have only spoken in debates on a couple of occasions but take the Tory whip and vote when asked to do so.

These peers, who are manifestly not qualified to offer any meaningful contribution to the legislative process (other than their votes), rely almost entirely on this generous financial provision for their income. For them the House of Lords is nothing but a club which, as well as providing a congenial setting for their social activities, helps maintain their lifestyles outside Parliament at public expense.

That such a system has survived most of the 20th century after the 1911 Parliament Act is bizarre to say the least. It is hard to take the Conservative Party seriously when, at the start of the new millennium, it persists in opposing root and branch reform to this moribund upper chamber.
Matthew Brett

I feel that the reform should not happen with out a referendum. This is a change to our constitution thus the whole of the United Kingdom should have had a vote on what was going to happen.

How did the Labour Government slip this through? Or did the other parties let us down? The half-baked interim will only lead to more power to the Labour Government.

The Union is under threat of splitting, and now the way in which we govern is also. Royalists should not sit on their hands and do nothing. Next the Queen will go. Are we going to see President Blair? A lot of people do feel that there should be a reform, but not a half way house. A lot can happen between now and the finished Second House.
Gerald Lawrence

Fully elected second chamber!
Steve

Unquestionably, the House of Lords has no place in the 21st century. That is not to say that the function it performs is redundant, far from it in a 'first past the post system', where the majority of the winning political party never reflects the country's view as a whole.

Having decided that the rich great-great-great-grandson of a ruthless mediaeval baron, who has never had to use state education, health or travel standard class on a train is not really suitable to decide on the welfare of the majority of us, it remains to decide who is.

The House of commons is certainly the driving force of the nation's progress, the 'upper' house is really the moderator. So, as a suggestion why not populate the upper house with, on a PR (single transferable vote) basis, members of the political parties nominated by their own internal mechanisms.

We could add to this, certain eminent people from chosen spheres, such as education, law, heath, business. This would be a little contentious in so far as they would be chosen (not elected) and who should chose them.

But, I believe that the time has come to accept that the Lords have had their day, and in it's day they served (some of?) the nation adequately. Let us now focus our attention on the replacement for them. Other democracies inside and outside the EU seem to function without hereditary peers, let's look at how they do it.
Bob Stevens

Whilst the hereditary principle does seem archaic at the eve of the 21st Century, as we all know from our own families, this does not guarantee that the views / attitudes / lifestyle of the parents will be those of the child. In addition, in the era of the career politician at least the Lords provides a coterie of individuals who have experience and interests outside of politics and in recent times, whose views more closely ally with those of the General Public on a large number of issues.

In a time where the House of Commons is of decreasing importance and where the Government of the day can have a huge 'rubber stamp' majority based on a minority of the electorate's votes, it is even more important that we have a revising chamber to identify and challenge bad legislation. The mechanics of its constitution , I feel are of a lesser importance.

Whilst a more representative second chamber, possibly on the basis of direct election, appears superficially attractive, I am concerned that either a Government's majority in the Commons would merely be replicated in the 'Lords', or, as in the US, gridlock would occur between a politically polarised Commons and Lords merely playing the political game.

Without questioning Tony Blair's motives on this issue, I feel that until such time as a clearly superior alternative is found, we should retain the existing structure which serves us equally as well as the Commons.
Julian Holley

I am confident the future lies with Labour/Liberals/progressives. One mill-stone remains- monarchy. This has to be faced. I don't believe the people want Charles 3. Only a small step to a republic?
Stephen Archer, Harlow

I am an American and have been following the debate over the future of the Lords with much interest since late last year. The Lords once filled an important role in British government. That time has long since passed, and it is only reasonable that the Labour government should be looking for an alternative.

The concerns that some people have expressed towards the partisan basis for this change are partially valid; but establishing a separately elected second House of Parliament would give the British public the opportunity to bring party balance to the government. While a second body challenging and checking the Commons may make governing more difficult, a democracy should never be easy. Easy government is called fascism.

The American system of government was established by British subjects who were dissatisfied with Parliament and indeed the state of British government 200 plus years ago. The very reasons that Tony Blair is using to reform Parliament today are not unlike the ones the founders of the American republic used in forming our government.
Nathan DeMay

Click here to read more of your e-mails

Links to more Lords reform stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Lords reform stories

© BBC ^^ Back to top

News Front Page | World | UK | England | N Ireland | Scotland | Wales |
UK Politics | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature | Technology |
Health | Education | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |
Programmes