I sincerely hope that Nick Clegg does not get his way and that the House of Lords remains (largely) as it is. Constitutional reform is one of those areas policy that I am as conservative as you can get. If it ain’t broke don’t fix it!
No legislature in the world is perfect, and as much can be said of the Lords. But in their specific duty of revising legislation to make sure it is worthy of turning into law, they have no parallel. A house of experts who have seen the effects of Government from the inside (ex-ministers and civili servants) and outside (business, charity, social, cultural, academic and religious leaders) and can make razor sharp, analytic amendments to Bills that do not receive that kind of scrutiny in the Commons.
The two houses balance themselves out perfectly. The Commons reflects the political will of the country, the Lords reflects the collective expertise of the country.
The House of Lords is much cheaper than any of the other legislatures (Commons, EU Parliament, Welsh Assembly, Scottish Parliament).
If we were to do away with the House of Lords, Parliament would still need to draw on the expertise contained in it. But probably through much more bureaucratic and exclusive means such as extensive pre- and post-legislative scrutiny, select committee hearings etc.
Finally, the argument that the second chamber could be elected and not pose a challenge to the supremacy of the first is utter tosh! Why would 200 elected senators just accept that they have less right to command the legislative agenda than 600 MPs?! It is palpably ridiculous to suggest they would.
Anyway, rant over!
Most interesting for me at the moment is waiting to see what Ed Miliband will do. Most commentators are suggesting that he will do what most oppositions do and find a niggly part of the bill that he doesn’t like the vote against on that basis, despite the fact that it was in Labour’s manifesto to reform the Lords.
I think a cleverer approach would be to watch and wait while Lib Dems and Conservative MPs tear at each other causing a whole load of strife and publicity about an issue the public will be totally bored by, then to step in and offer a grand bargain. Vote with the Lib Dems and reformist Conservative MPs to give the Bill an overwhelming majority on the Commons. That way building bridges with Lib Dems, undermining the coalition and appearing like a leader who just wants to get on with debating matters of importance.
I sincerely hope Labour takes the easy road and finds some reason to oppose this Bill because I want to see the Lords stay as it is. But it might not work out that way.