Reform of the House of Lords?
The next step on the road to possible reform of the House of Lords has taken place. The House of Lords Reform Bill 2012 has been published.
If enacted in its published form 80 per cent of House of Lords members would be elected by the public (360 of the total number of Lords). The total number of members would be reduced by nearly half from 826 to 450.
The first elections for members of the reformed House of Lords would take place in May 2015. One-third of the elected members would be chosen then, with another third in 2020 and the final third in 2025 – 120 members in each election.
Existing Peers would be ‘phased’ out as elected members were brought in.
The Bill provides that the remaining 20 per cent (90 members) would be appointed by a statutory Appointments Commission on a non-party basis.
In addition, the Bill provides that there would also be 12 Church of England bishops, a reduction from the current 26 church representatives, reflecting the smaller overall size of the Chamber. In addition, anyone appointed to a Ministerial position who was also made a members of the House of Lords would be added to the overall total.
Under the Bill, members of the reformed House would serve for 15-year terms of office, and they would only be allowed to serve for one term. Elected members would be picked using a Semi-Open List electoral system, giving voters the choice of voting for a party or for an individual in their region.
The Bill provides that the reformed House of Lords would not challenge the historical legislative primacy of the House of Commons. The new Bill specifically states that the Parliament Acts of 1911 and 1949, which define the relationship between the Houses, remain in force.
Publication of the Bill has resulted in great controversy, with many predicting that it will no become law. The progress of the Bill however cannot be ignored and progress will be noted here.
To see the Bill and its Explanatory Notes go to http://services.parliament.uk/bills/2012-13/houseoflordsreform/documents.html