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< Back to question Should the House of Lords be abolished? Show more Show less

The role of the British Parliament’s second unelected chamber has been debated for a century to no avail. Despite minor reform in the late 1990s, the future of the House of Lords remains ambiguous at best. So what is the purpose of the House of Lords? Should it be left untouched, reformed, or ultimately abolished?

The House of Lords should be reformed Show more Show less

While the aim of the House of Lords is positive, it does not serve us in its current form.
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The House of Lords should partially be elected

Enabling some of the House of Lords to be elected increases the level of democracy while preserving the 'checks and balance' feature of the House.
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The Argument

The House of Lords is undemocratic but also provides an important role, offering expert technical scrutiny of the Government's legislative program. Without the need to seek re-election, peers sit outside of partisan debate and can independently assess legislation based on its merits. Any reform of the House of Lords should therefore seek to enhance its legitimacy and accountability to the electorate, while also preserving its strengths. The best approach would be ensuring a balance between elected peers and peers who are appointed on the basis of their expertise.

Counter arguments

Partial reform of the House of Lords would not satisfy public demands for democratic accountability. Nor would it end the practice of party leaders selecting donors, former staff, or former Members of Parliament to sit in the upper chamber, undermining any claims of expertise. Instead, partial reform runs the risk of pleasing no one. Leaving those who advocate a fully elected upper chamber upset about continued political appointments and undermining the claim by supporters of the current House of Lords that it sits independently outside of narrow partisan politics.

Premises

[P1] The House of Lords serves a positive role in acting as a check for the legislature. [P2] We should not get rid of it, but seek to fix it by making it more democratic. [P3] The most straightforward way to do this is to make the House of Lords partially elected.

Rejecting the premises

[Rejecting P3] Making the House of Lords partially elected would not fix how undemocratic it is.

References


    This page was last edited on Monday, 9 Mar 2020 at 14:42 UTC

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