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The House of Lords

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Submitted By kisha10
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“As the House of Lords has existed for about six centuries without reform, some alterations have become necessary in order to bring it into conformity with the changed institutions by which it is surrounded.” – Lord Rosebery, 1884.1
Since Lord Rosebery’s well-known speech there has been much debate about changes in the composition of the House of Lords. Major reforms included the Life Peerages Act 1958 and later the House of Lords Act 1999, which reduced the hereditary members to 92.2 Nevertheless, constitutional experts such as Rodney Brazier argue that the House of Lords continues to be “unelected, unrepresentative and unaccountable.”3 The Coalition Government is therefore working on another reform bill to provide for a wholly or largely elected second chamber. This essay will argue that such a drastic change from a largely appointed to an elected system is too unrealistic to be implemented. Instead, the Government should seek to abolish Prime Ministerial patronage as well as the remaining hereditary members and adopt an independent Appointments Commission that appoints all the members of the upper chamber. To arrive at this conclusion, we will need to analyse which selection method best retains the Lords’ expertise, as well as their independence and representativeness. Then, a discussion follows whether the Lords necessarily ought to be democratically elected to provide a legitimate chamber. Lastly, the possibility of a mixed chamber will be considered.
The House of Lords is commonly referred to as the ‘revising chamber’ in Parliament as its principal role is to serve as a check on the Government by amending drafted bills.4 Without the scrutiny of the House of Lords there would not be any “counterweight against elective dictatorship”, because the House of Commons could otherwise easily pass their bills.5 Would this vital function be preserved in both elected and…...

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