Select Committee on Public Administration Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence

Memorandum by Brian White MP (LR 51)

Letter to the Lord Chancellor

  I believe that White Paper misses a historic opportunity to reorganise our constitution by ensuring we have democratic accountability of all Parliamentarians.

  The only Chamber that does this is the House of Commons and therefore I believe that we should be a unicameral state with devolved administrations including in the English Regions.

  However I recognise that this may be a step too far and if we are to have a second chamber then it should at least be fully elected. It should be of the order of 200-300 full time parliamentarians in the second chamber. They should be completely divorced from titles which can continue or not as they are an irrelevance.

  As a compromise I would be willing to support the views expressed by a majority of the Parliamentary Labour Party backbenchers who arrived at the figure of 58 per cent or the Conservative Party position of 80 per cent elected although not on shire county boundaries.

  I don't believe that whatever comes out of this consultation is the end of the process and there will continue to be pressure in our pluralistic society for further reform. We should welcome that and not see it as failing.

  One of the main arguments for appointment is that the second chamber uses its experience and needs to retain the involvement of specialists and other key views of people with particular expertise. This could be easily accommodated by designating such people with a title and a role as a super specialist advisor who would have the right to be heard by committees on their specialism(s)/area of expertise but would not have the vote.

  The argument that life peers were given an expectation they would be there for life is nonsense. Many people thought they had a job for life and thought they had been promised a cradle to grave welfare state but Parliament took them away without compunction. Why should already privileged people be treated any differently. I am in favour of a voluntary redundancy package but if they won't go quietly then the Government should have no compunction in making them compulsorily redundant.

  If we have an elected Chamber it should be through an open regional list. At all cost we much avoid returning to shire county boundaries which reinforce the historical Conservative bias of Parliament.

previous page contents next page

House of Commons home page Parliament home page House of Lords home page search page enquiries index

© Parliamentary copyright 2002
Prepared 25 February 2002