Contrasting views on House of Lords reform

As mentioned in a previous post, the House of Lords Reform Bill – a key plank of the Liberal Democrats’ proposals for constitutional reform  – was withdrawn from Parliament, because the Prime Minister judged that he could not sell it to a sufficient number of Conservative MPs. But of course discussion about whether – and, if so, how – the House of Lords should be reformed has not stopped.

Earlier this week, two interesting posts on this topic were published on the UK Constitutional Law Blog. In the first post, Professor Gavin Phillipson argues that opponents of the Bill were wrong; that the hybrid House of Lords provided for by the Bill – mainly elected but with some appointed members – could have worked; that it would have been an improvement on what we have now; and that there is no plausible answer to the argument that democracy requires the House of Lords to be an elected chamber.

Professor Dawn Oliver, in response, argues to the contrary. In particular, she asserts (in my view, for what it is worth, correctly) that: “The combination of elected and appointed members proposed in the draft bill would not produce a system of scrutiny and checks on government as good as or better than the present arrangements as they operate in practice. Thus going over to a largely elected composition in the second chamber risks throwing the baby out with the bathwater.”

If you’re interested in this issue, have a look at the two posts – they are accessibly written, and provide two illuminatingly contrasting perspectives.

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