Memorandum by The Reverend A Pyke (LR
I am writing to you in your capacity of Chairman
of the Public Administration Committee to say that I find the
government proposals for the reform of the Upper House completely
unacceptable. The area in which New Labour, in my opinion, lacks
the most credibility is that of its handling of election issues
with the London Mayor and the Regional Assemblies being cases
in point. Constitutional reform should not be a party political
issue. Every effort should be made to reach cross party agreement,
but in any case, to ensure that sufficient checks and balances
be built into the system to hold the executive to account. It
seems to me that the ideal Upper House in the eyes of some would
be a rubber stamp.
I believe that the Lower House should continue
to be elected by a "first past the post" system to ensure
the direct link between the electorate and the Member of Parliament.
Because this system can deliver what might virtually amount to
an elected dictatorship there has to be a strong counter balance.
This means having parliamentary committees that have real independence.
It also means a strong Upper House.
To have any legitimacy this House must have
at least 51 per cent of its membership elected by the people,
preferably, by proportional representation. This would give the
political parties as much scope as they need to assign members
from their lists according to the strength of the vote. The remainder
should be appointed by an independent electoral commission and
should be drawn from people who have significant contributions
to make by reason of their proven expertise in the field from
which they come.
I suggest that such an Upper House would command
general support in the eyes of our people and would be a fitting
conclusion to the reform process.
I would very much like to know what you think
about this matter?