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Tuesday, April 24, 2012

House of Lords Reform - Scotsman Letter

   In today's Scotsman
I just heard David Cameron explaining why he opposed a referendum on Lords reform while supporting referendums on London and other places having mayors. The mayoral referendums were because locally entrenched politicians were against them and a referendum was to get past them and find the people's wishes. Whereas for Lords reform the entrenched powers in all 3 parties are in favour of some cosmetic reform.
Mr Cameron appeared to be unaware that he was thus riding 2 horses in opposite directions. This commitment to democratic sovereignty, but not when it is your own entrenched interests, is typical of our political class.
Reforming the Lords is as major a constitutional change as we have seen since women got the vote.
If this is not something on which the people's wishes are  to be made known Britain is not a democracy.

We should settle this by referendum.
But it should not be the sort of referendum we had on voting reform where the most popular option, true Proportional representation, was deliberately kept off the ballot because the Tories knew it would easily win.
We need a proper multi-option. run off. referendum under which we, the people, get to decide whether we want a fully elected PR chamber, or, as currently, a fully appointed one, some mixture of the 2 or something else. No decision from which the people are deliberately excluded will get any lasting respect and Parlimenmtarians are already not overly burdened with popular regard as it is.
  The letter was published as written except for reformatting of the paragraphs and 2 words. I am keeping the Scotsman edition because i think the edited version the better one.

     Daniel Hannan has an article on the subject as well where he comes us with this constitutional support 
the greatest constitutional theorist of the day, AV Dicey, who described referendums as 'the best, if not the only possible, check upon ill-considered alterations in the fundamental institutions of the country'.
..... a difference, as Dicey put it, 'between laws which are not fundamental and constitutional and laws which are.'
   I will later give my ideas for how to reform our second chamber. There is no chance of the Commons MPs alone producing this since what they want is the appearance of a second chamber able to keep some separation of powers but that the reality be that it all rests with them, or, since the Commons is fairly toothless, with their Downing Street master.  This, in particular, is why they will oppose PR in the Lords. Though it would look like a reasonable compromise the inevitable result is that the Lords would acquire more democratic legitimacy than the Commons & thus actually have some power.

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