Keddie: Instead of an Elected Lords, let’s have a People’s House

Patrick Keddie, a freelance writer, writes in Liberal Conspiracy:

The historic prospect of reforming the House of Lords, set to be announced in the Queen’s Speech on 9 May, should be exciting – yet the public is hardly enthused.

Fairly or not, politicians are currently viewed as pretty disreputable creatures and the prospect of electing even more of them is not very appealing to many.

But there is a little-discussed radical alternative; a second chamber composed of ordinary people, appointed by lottery in a manner similar to those chosen for jury service.

I came across the idea on comedian Mark Thomas’s People’s Manifesto radio show. Thomas began a tour of the UK in 2009, asking audiences to come up with their own ideas and policies which were then debated.
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Slinger: Chance for reform that is truly radical

A letter proposing sortition for the House of Lords by John Slinger – a Labour activist – is published in the Financial Times:

The report this week of the Joint Committee on the Draft House of Lords Reform Bill has led to a tired and polarised debate, resulting in two equally unattractive options. The conservationists wish to preserve an anachronistic, undemocratic body, which nonetheless carries out its responsibility to revise legislation with aplomb due to the expertise of its members. The reformers cling to the totem of elections to bestow on the Lords some semblance of democracy, yet offer no explanation on how to manage the inevitable constitutional clash between the newly legitimate Lords and the previously supreme Commons, or how the full range of expertise would be preserved. Instead, we require radical reform accommodating the best features of both options while mitigating their inherent deficiencies. One little-discussed idea is for a system of Citizen Senators, selected by lot as with juries.
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