The Government Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee is seeking submissions regarding reform of the House of Lords, This is our submission:
The House of Lords plays an invaluable role in UK governance particularly as we have an unwritten constitution. However its current composition is totally unsuited to a modern democracy.
The House of Lords should be replaced by a Senate comprising elected members, this would remove several anachronisms.
Democracy demands that all our legislators be elected; there is no justification for membership of the second chamber by dint of birth or ecclesiastical position.
The appointment of members by political parties is also unacceptable and leads to cronyism and members who are simply political placemen.
The current size of the House of Lords at more than 800 peers is untenable and more than double its seating capacity. The new Senate should have no more than 200 elected members each elected for a single five year term.
Senators should all be independent with no formal party affiliations. They would be drawn from every section of society.
As now Senators would scrutinise and amend legislation created by the Commons and so their election would not mean the second chamber “competes” with the Commons.
Senators would be unpaid but would continue to receive the salary that they enjoyed prior to election and their jobs kept open for them. Some expenses would be given to them for travel, accommodation etc.
The restoration of the Houses of Parliament offers the perfect opportunity for the Senate to permanently relocate to a new circular debating chamber.
The selection of candidates for election to the Senate is beyond the scope of this document but can be supplied on request.
Cambridge Secular Society