Please submit your own thoughts on how the second chamber of the UK parliament should be reformed: http://action.unlockdemocracy.org.uk/lords-consultation
Here is what I said:
My biggest concern is the low level and poor quality of democratic engagement in this country. This goes way beyond votes in elections (where turnout is too low), voting systems (which need changing), and Lords reform (which is 100 years overdue), important though they are. True democratic reform needs to tackle things like the poor quality of statutory consultations undertaken by local government: decisions have been made before the consultation is undertaken, there is no clear link between the responses and any changes in the decision, and people are left out because only a minority of people are able to give their thoughts using the limited methods available, and no other methods are tried to engage with the others.
The Single Transferable Vote system is the best and only legitimate voting system for government and parliament. And all members should face some sort of election – so if 20% of the second chamber are to be “appointed”, the electorate should get to choose from an independently-compiled short list of suggested appointees. Appointments without election might provide expertise, but they also create an elite which is undemocratic.
While voting is most important for choosing members of the second chamber, I do have a concern that this will lead to the same old party politics happening in the second chamber. My idea for the 20% appointees being elected from an independent list should help to balance this. (This list should be split between Anglican Bishops, representatives of other faiths, people with professional/academic expertise, and some random members of the public: a few should be elected from each group.)
But the remaining 80% fully elected members should not be able to be re-elected – so they won’t be campaigning from the chamber, which will hopefully remove some party politicking.
There should be fewer members of the second chamber. Every 5 years there should be an election for ONLY one third of the membership at one time – so only a (different) minority of members have to leave at each election, so expertise and confidence isn’t all lost each time. This gives a term limit for an individual member of 15 years.
The second chamber should be able to delay government legislation as it can currently, but with the additional limit that two-thirds of the membership of the second chamber must agree to do this to make it happen for a second time on the same bill. If members of the second chamber can’t be re-elected as I propose, and a third of them are replaced every 5 years, this is also a limit on the power of the second chamber to delay government legislation.