The government’s proposals, in brief: over the course of three general elections, they would replace the hereditary and life peers with ones elected through a party list system to serve 15-year non-renewable terms. These party peers would make up 80% of the new House, and 20% would be ‘great and the good’-style non-party appointees with expertise in various worthy fields.
As I say, pretty much a complete overhaul. And yet…
Most of what these reforms would achieve could be done much more easily, by making just two changes to the current House of Lords:
- Fix the numbers of new appointees to match party vote shares at the last election (with 20% non-party worthies). That gets you the proportionality based on election results.
- Change the length of a peerage from life to 15 years. That gets you the regular turnover. (If it’s less of a wrench for them, I’m happy to let former members keep their titles.)
Now, I’m not necessarily saying that the government’s plan is good even in theory, just that my plan would get us most of the way there a lot more easily. And of course there are other things you might want to change about the Lords (me, I’d kick out the clergymen). But the more you try to change in one go, the more fronts you’ll find yourself fighting on.
Keep it simple.