house of lords: allocate peerages like jury service

The current system: http://lordsappointments.independent.gov.uk/

My repeal would not be to the system but to its workload, by trialling another system.

Allocate one jurer in a million a life peerage, or some variation on this theme:

  • the oldest child of one jurer in a million
     
  • the elected top 50% of a group of randomly chosen jurers, if 50% stand for life peerage in a mainly online and TV hustings system.
     
  • the system that arrises after a few trials of different ideas as above and popular comment. It could be that some of these new lords, like pools winners, wish they never had the chance to make fools of themselves and have suggestions for changing the system more.
     
  • hereditary peers who have been refused their former membership, and have below average income or have an unusual career, possibly with a change to old laws to make peerages unisex. This last idea is coming from a different direction but you get the gist of the first few.

Why is this idea important?

The current system: http://lordsappointments.independent.gov.uk/

My repeal would not be to the system but to its workload, by trialling another system.

Allocate one jurer in a million a life peerage, or some variation on this theme:

  • the oldest child of one jurer in a million
     
  • the elected top 50% of a group of randomly chosen jurers, if 50% stand for life peerage in a mainly online and TV hustings system.
     
  • the system that arrises after a few trials of different ideas as above and popular comment. It could be that some of these new lords, like pools winners, wish they never had the chance to make fools of themselves and have suggestions for changing the system more.
     
  • hereditary peers who have been refused their former membership, and have below average income or have an unusual career, possibly with a change to old laws to make peerages unisex. This last idea is coming from a different direction but you get the gist of the first few.

A House Of Lords Reform Proposal

The chief aim of my proposals is to make a transition to a different form of second chamber, on the threefold principle that:

a) Such a transition needs to be a reasonably painless, evolutionary process.

b) Such a transition needs to produce a more effective, 'slim-line' revising chamber.

c) Such a transition needs to produce a chamber which contains a more interesting and varied mix of members.

Taking these three principles together, we need to take steps which will, so to speak, throw out the bath-water, but not the baby … and, to stretch the analogy a little, create space for some fresh water, too:

Step One:

Retain current arrangements for Hereditaries and Bishops. Automatically grant a life-peerage to all members of the supreme court ; who become entitled to sit in the Lords (as Law Lords) upon their retirement from the court.

Step Two:

A Bill placing a limit on the total number of peers there can be (whether sitting in the Lords or not), at any one time. I suggest 1750 people.

Step Three:

The Life Peers to select 25% of their numbers to sit in the Lords (the remaining 'pool' of Life Peers could, like the pool of Hereditaries, be voted back into the chamber, upon the death of a sitting Life Peer).

Step Four:

100 New Category Peers, selected entirely at random, maybe by a form of national lottery, phased in 20 per year. Replaced one at a time, on the death of one of their number.

Democracy is good, but so also is a link with our history as a nation (which the already much-depleted 'Lords Spiritual' help to provide). Our main focus should be on the house continuing to do what it does best, and strengthening and improving upon those things. There is no public clamour now for the complete removal of the Hereditaries. It is the number of Life Peers which is becoming unwieldy. Meanwhile, the introduction of Random 'Jury' Peers would be a simple and direct way of engaging the general public in parliamentary business.

It would be good to get a bit more 'randomism' in public life. What a delightful thing it would be, and what a boost to public interest in politics, if, say, the local bin-man was suddenly ennobled, under my system. Certainly, the presence of these 'Jury Peers' would go a long way to making the 'feel' of the second chamber much less elitist.

For clarity, a Lords 'Lottery Winner' would have so many days (I'm open to suggestions on how many) to accept, in writing, the offer of a seat. Obviously, those who were going to find it too disruptive to their lives would most likely not bother to respond, which would be taken as declining the offer ~ with the offer passed on to the next on the list.


New entrants of this sort could well be over-awed to begin with, but I think they would soon get into the swing of things … and before long, they would find themselves mentoring the next batch of entrants.


The possibility of dangerous/criminal/extreme types getting in there should be covered by clear proceedural rules in the house, and the law of the land, as and when any problems arise. I wouldn't want there to be any pre-vetting as such, because the virtue of the random intake is it's potential to bring forward some real free thinkers. This free thinking is enshrined by life-long occupation of the seat.


The opt-out that I mentioned earlier assumes that those who take their seats will want to participate. However, it does not ask anyone in advance about whether they would want to get involved, due to the old adage of 'those who seek power shouldn't be given it'. Thus random allocation comes as more of a pleasant surprise.

A sufficient (though not extravagant) salary would also need to be agreed upon, so that poorer people are not immediately put off … but this again is a detail to be discussed. My hope is that the 'Jury Peers' would come into their own, over time, as guardians of the constitution, of basic liberties, and of common standards of decency … They would begin as absolute beginners, and end their lives as national treasures.

Why is this idea important?

The chief aim of my proposals is to make a transition to a different form of second chamber, on the threefold principle that:

a) Such a transition needs to be a reasonably painless, evolutionary process.

b) Such a transition needs to produce a more effective, 'slim-line' revising chamber.

c) Such a transition needs to produce a chamber which contains a more interesting and varied mix of members.

Taking these three principles together, we need to take steps which will, so to speak, throw out the bath-water, but not the baby … and, to stretch the analogy a little, create space for some fresh water, too:

Step One:

Retain current arrangements for Hereditaries and Bishops. Automatically grant a life-peerage to all members of the supreme court ; who become entitled to sit in the Lords (as Law Lords) upon their retirement from the court.

Step Two:

A Bill placing a limit on the total number of peers there can be (whether sitting in the Lords or not), at any one time. I suggest 1750 people.

Step Three:

The Life Peers to select 25% of their numbers to sit in the Lords (the remaining 'pool' of Life Peers could, like the pool of Hereditaries, be voted back into the chamber, upon the death of a sitting Life Peer).

Step Four:

100 New Category Peers, selected entirely at random, maybe by a form of national lottery, phased in 20 per year. Replaced one at a time, on the death of one of their number.

Democracy is good, but so also is a link with our history as a nation (which the already much-depleted 'Lords Spiritual' help to provide). Our main focus should be on the house continuing to do what it does best, and strengthening and improving upon those things. There is no public clamour now for the complete removal of the Hereditaries. It is the number of Life Peers which is becoming unwieldy. Meanwhile, the introduction of Random 'Jury' Peers would be a simple and direct way of engaging the general public in parliamentary business.

It would be good to get a bit more 'randomism' in public life. What a delightful thing it would be, and what a boost to public interest in politics, if, say, the local bin-man was suddenly ennobled, under my system. Certainly, the presence of these 'Jury Peers' would go a long way to making the 'feel' of the second chamber much less elitist.

For clarity, a Lords 'Lottery Winner' would have so many days (I'm open to suggestions on how many) to accept, in writing, the offer of a seat. Obviously, those who were going to find it too disruptive to their lives would most likely not bother to respond, which would be taken as declining the offer ~ with the offer passed on to the next on the list.


New entrants of this sort could well be over-awed to begin with, but I think they would soon get into the swing of things … and before long, they would find themselves mentoring the next batch of entrants.


The possibility of dangerous/criminal/extreme types getting in there should be covered by clear proceedural rules in the house, and the law of the land, as and when any problems arise. I wouldn't want there to be any pre-vetting as such, because the virtue of the random intake is it's potential to bring forward some real free thinkers. This free thinking is enshrined by life-long occupation of the seat.


The opt-out that I mentioned earlier assumes that those who take their seats will want to participate. However, it does not ask anyone in advance about whether they would want to get involved, due to the old adage of 'those who seek power shouldn't be given it'. Thus random allocation comes as more of a pleasant surprise.

A sufficient (though not extravagant) salary would also need to be agreed upon, so that poorer people are not immediately put off … but this again is a detail to be discussed. My hope is that the 'Jury Peers' would come into their own, over time, as guardians of the constitution, of basic liberties, and of common standards of decency … They would begin as absolute beginners, and end their lives as national treasures.

Abolish the House of Lords Appointment Rules

Whether or not the House of Lords should exist at all is one question, but the most objectionable thing is that various cronies of the various political parties, many of them never elected by the public any more than were the hereditary peers, have been installed in the House of Lords in recent years.

 

The thinking appears to be get as many of your political ally cronies in there as possible, to outnumber and outflank the existing hereditary peers, who so often have put the block on appalling anti-freedom laws, such as hunting bans, etc.

 

The result is that whichever party gets the longest session in power gets as many of its cronies in as possible, to thereby pervert the last line of defence of the public from the madness of whichever government decides to put forth extreme, unpopular or anti-freedom policies.

 

Though this is not the place to suggest total abolition of the House of Lords, or a new system of creating Lords, it is certainly the place to point out that this totally undemocratic sneaking in of all sorts of dubious persons – no need to mention names – of whatever hue (they all seem to favour ERMINE in the end) is an appalling insult to the public, thoroughly undemocratic, and whatever mechanisms/laws/rules which allow governments to put their favourites and cronies in the House of Lords must be repealed/abolished in the public interest.

Why is this idea important?

Whether or not the House of Lords should exist at all is one question, but the most objectionable thing is that various cronies of the various political parties, many of them never elected by the public any more than were the hereditary peers, have been installed in the House of Lords in recent years.

 

The thinking appears to be get as many of your political ally cronies in there as possible, to outnumber and outflank the existing hereditary peers, who so often have put the block on appalling anti-freedom laws, such as hunting bans, etc.

 

The result is that whichever party gets the longest session in power gets as many of its cronies in as possible, to thereby pervert the last line of defence of the public from the madness of whichever government decides to put forth extreme, unpopular or anti-freedom policies.

 

Though this is not the place to suggest total abolition of the House of Lords, or a new system of creating Lords, it is certainly the place to point out that this totally undemocratic sneaking in of all sorts of dubious persons – no need to mention names – of whatever hue (they all seem to favour ERMINE in the end) is an appalling insult to the public, thoroughly undemocratic, and whatever mechanisms/laws/rules which allow governments to put their favourites and cronies in the House of Lords must be repealed/abolished in the public interest.

Remove All Hereditary Peers

If peers in the house of lords are suppost to scruitinize, review and improve legaslations passed on by the house of commons then what right do hereditary peers have to use such powers. While being a peer you not only have the right to sit and vote in the lords but you also gain all of the rights and expenses that come with the title. This can be argued as a good thing for appointed peers, people who have worked hard their whole lives and acheived outstanding merit.

Why though should hereditary peers still be allowed to sit in the lords and be entitled to the same rights and hournors of the appointed peers? Hereditary peers have not worked hard nor acheived any outstanding merit to be awarded that privalage.

Although they may do a good job it is not democratic that they can just inhereit this right because of who their father was. It is not fair that they get these extra privalages just because they were lucky enough to be born into that particular family.

Why is this idea important?

If peers in the house of lords are suppost to scruitinize, review and improve legaslations passed on by the house of commons then what right do hereditary peers have to use such powers. While being a peer you not only have the right to sit and vote in the lords but you also gain all of the rights and expenses that come with the title. This can be argued as a good thing for appointed peers, people who have worked hard their whole lives and acheived outstanding merit.

Why though should hereditary peers still be allowed to sit in the lords and be entitled to the same rights and hournors of the appointed peers? Hereditary peers have not worked hard nor acheived any outstanding merit to be awarded that privalage.

Although they may do a good job it is not democratic that they can just inhereit this right because of who their father was. It is not fair that they get these extra privalages just because they were lucky enough to be born into that particular family.

Removing the right to inherted peerage

To become a peer it should be granted due to service to the people and the people should be allowed to decide is worthy NOT MPs or the Queen.

The Queen and Political Parties etc can nominate peers, then an online voting system can be used to elect them.

Why is this idea important?

To become a peer it should be granted due to service to the people and the people should be allowed to decide is worthy NOT MPs or the Queen.

The Queen and Political Parties etc can nominate peers, then an online voting system can be used to elect them.

Separate the executive from the legislature

Currently, the Cabinet sits in Parliament. This means that they can vote on what the laws are, and then put them into force, a gross violation of the separation of powers principle. The executive seems to dominate Parliament, and forces through laws we don't want, and appoints people only one constituency (if that) chose.

 

I am not proposing that the Prime Minister shouldn't come from the House of Commons. He can stay. But the rest, the ones that form his Cabinet – they should not be MPs or Peers.

 

Instead, we could emulate the American system. The Prime Minister would nominate someone to take up a role in Cabinet. Then that person should be vetted and approved by Parliament. The vetting would be a thorough Q&A session (or plural)  to assess the nominee's ability to do the job. Then a vote would be taken, and if the vote was lost, then the Prime Minister would have to find someone else to nominate.

Why is this idea important?

Currently, the Cabinet sits in Parliament. This means that they can vote on what the laws are, and then put them into force, a gross violation of the separation of powers principle. The executive seems to dominate Parliament, and forces through laws we don't want, and appoints people only one constituency (if that) chose.

 

I am not proposing that the Prime Minister shouldn't come from the House of Commons. He can stay. But the rest, the ones that form his Cabinet – they should not be MPs or Peers.

 

Instead, we could emulate the American system. The Prime Minister would nominate someone to take up a role in Cabinet. Then that person should be vetted and approved by Parliament. The vetting would be a thorough Q&A session (or plural)  to assess the nominee's ability to do the job. Then a vote would be taken, and if the vote was lost, then the Prime Minister would have to find someone else to nominate.

Leave the House of Lords alone

There are many reasons for at least postponing the complete re-structuring of the House of Lords.   Their work is good, their cost is minimal and they are the corporate memory of the country.

Elections cost money; people who are elected deserve to be paid properly;  the public know little enough about their elected members of parliament and to elect people to an upper house where the duty of service, fairness and erudite decision making are imperative could be disastrous.

Why is this idea important?

There are many reasons for at least postponing the complete re-structuring of the House of Lords.   Their work is good, their cost is minimal and they are the corporate memory of the country.

Elections cost money; people who are elected deserve to be paid properly;  the public know little enough about their elected members of parliament and to elect people to an upper house where the duty of service, fairness and erudite decision making are imperative could be disastrous.

Abolish all the laws relating to peerages, house of lords, CBEs, MBEs, KBEs, etc

We should create a modern republic that rewards hard work and contributions to society rather than some back-scratching peerage or knighthood for someone who's funded whatever political party.

Why not have a second chamber elected by PR rather than the current system of appointments and elitism.

Why is this idea important?

We should create a modern republic that rewards hard work and contributions to society rather than some back-scratching peerage or knighthood for someone who's funded whatever political party.

Why not have a second chamber elected by PR rather than the current system of appointments and elitism.

Select Lords by Lottery

Going to first principles:  the main job of the House of Lords is to scrutinise laws made by the House of Commons.  

My suggestions would be:

1  Rename the House of Lords the House of Scrutineers.  

Lets face it the main job of the present Lords is to check laws made in the Commons.

2  We need to select people who are independent of the party influences.

I would suggest we adopt the methods of the ancient Athenians which is to identify potential candidates in each section of society and then select by lottery.  

How I would see it working is that we split the country into regions and then into different segments of society, such as:

  • corporate business
  • trade unions
  • small business
  • social enterprise
  • religion
  • the unemployed
  • charity sector
  • public sector and 
  • academia.  
  • Other sectors would need to be decided by discussion. 

People could apply to be candidates in one of these sections.  

There would be a vetting system for candidates dependent of the sector.  So the small business candidates would have to had worked for a small business or a relevant organisation, such as a Chamber of Commerce.  

There could be many or few candidates in each sector.  

The Lottery 

On a specific date each sector would be dealt with separately.  

So if their were say 300 candidates for the charity sector in the north-west and there were only 3 places in the new House of Scrutineers, then the names would be put into some form lottery, probably electronic, or like the balls in the Lottery, then the three successful applicants would be chosen.  

Terms of office for Scrutineers

It is assumed that Scrutineers would probably work the equivalent of half time and would therefore be eligible to combine this post with work in their appropriate sector or to work on projects for such organisations, such as the National Audit Office. 

Two year initial contract: I would suggest an initial two year contract for Scrutineers.  At the end of which the Scrutineer can resign or renew their contract.  There would also be some requirements of the Scrutineer to attend the House, to have voted and been in discussions and committees.  

Six year renewed contracts: The Scrutineer would then be able to renew their contract two, or possibly three, times.  This would ensure that there would a mixture of new Scrutineers as well as more experienced practitioners. 

Support

The Scrutineers would get a reasonable pay and a fixed living allowance.  In the region they come from there will be set up a secretarial and research service.  

Roles  

  • Scrutinise the work of the House of Commons
  • Evaluate existing laws and where necessary propose updates
  • Introduce laws for consideration by the commons.  

 

And the existng House of Lords?

  • It will lose its power.  
  • Whether existing Lords can retain their titles is a discussion for the public and the political class.
  • Some of the ceremonies, such as the Opening of Parliament, can be retained, as its good for tourism etc.  
  • However, the influence of the Lords will effectively have been removed.  

 

Why is this idea important?

Going to first principles:  the main job of the House of Lords is to scrutinise laws made by the House of Commons.  

My suggestions would be:

1  Rename the House of Lords the House of Scrutineers.  

Lets face it the main job of the present Lords is to check laws made in the Commons.

2  We need to select people who are independent of the party influences.

I would suggest we adopt the methods of the ancient Athenians which is to identify potential candidates in each section of society and then select by lottery.  

How I would see it working is that we split the country into regions and then into different segments of society, such as:

  • corporate business
  • trade unions
  • small business
  • social enterprise
  • religion
  • the unemployed
  • charity sector
  • public sector and 
  • academia.  
  • Other sectors would need to be decided by discussion. 

People could apply to be candidates in one of these sections.  

There would be a vetting system for candidates dependent of the sector.  So the small business candidates would have to had worked for a small business or a relevant organisation, such as a Chamber of Commerce.  

There could be many or few candidates in each sector.  

The Lottery 

On a specific date each sector would be dealt with separately.  

So if their were say 300 candidates for the charity sector in the north-west and there were only 3 places in the new House of Scrutineers, then the names would be put into some form lottery, probably electronic, or like the balls in the Lottery, then the three successful applicants would be chosen.  

Terms of office for Scrutineers

It is assumed that Scrutineers would probably work the equivalent of half time and would therefore be eligible to combine this post with work in their appropriate sector or to work on projects for such organisations, such as the National Audit Office. 

Two year initial contract: I would suggest an initial two year contract for Scrutineers.  At the end of which the Scrutineer can resign or renew their contract.  There would also be some requirements of the Scrutineer to attend the House, to have voted and been in discussions and committees.  

Six year renewed contracts: The Scrutineer would then be able to renew their contract two, or possibly three, times.  This would ensure that there would a mixture of new Scrutineers as well as more experienced practitioners. 

Support

The Scrutineers would get a reasonable pay and a fixed living allowance.  In the region they come from there will be set up a secretarial and research service.  

Roles  

  • Scrutinise the work of the House of Commons
  • Evaluate existing laws and where necessary propose updates
  • Introduce laws for consideration by the commons.  

 

And the existng House of Lords?

  • It will lose its power.  
  • Whether existing Lords can retain their titles is a discussion for the public and the political class.
  • Some of the ceremonies, such as the Opening of Parliament, can be retained, as its good for tourism etc.  
  • However, the influence of the Lords will effectively have been removed.