Option 1 - A fully appointed
63. A fully appointed House
would most closely resemble the existing House of Lords, with
the remaining hereditary element removed. Although the legitimacy
of such a House would be challenged, this could be mitigated if
a new independent and respected Appointments Commission was set
up by statute. We have said that we consider that there is a place
for political appointments to the House but, to ensure the integrity
of the process, all such appointments should be scrutinised by
the Appointments Commission.
64. An appointed House could more easily be made
representative both of sections of society (ethnic groups, sexes,
etc.) and of the regions. It would be the responsibility of the
new statutory body, the Appointments Commission, to ensure that
such representativeness was achieved. It is essential that a revamped
Appointments Commission should itself be seen to be independent
and to gain widespread support for its difficult but important
65. A fully appointed House could also provide a
method for the inclusion of independent members and experts. It
could continue to provide part-time members who could bring contemporary
professional experience to bear on the duties of scrutiny and
the passing of legislation. The matter of the length of tenure
and any conditions attaching to renewal and eligibility for entering
the Commons would need detailed investigation.
66. A fully appointed House suggests a larger House,
particularly during the transitional period, than a fully elected
2 - A fully elected House
67. The principal argument in favour of a fully elected
House is that it would have greater legitimacy and accountability.
That view rests upon the premise that legitimacy and accountability
are conferred by election. On the other hand the existing House,
in exercising independence and in applying expertise, has contributed
significantly to the process of parliamentary scrutiny. That may
also be considered a basis of legitimacy, important but different
from legitimacy conferred by election. Legitimacy based entirely
on election may well result in a House which is more assertive.
While a reformed second chamber could not unilaterally increase
its formal powers, it is a matter for consideration just how far
it might feel disposed, by more vigorous use of its existing powers,
to challenge the House of Commons and the Government. Such developments
could represent a significant constitutional change. A further
advantage of a fully elected House is that it provides representation
from across the United Kingdom.
68. An elected House is also likely to have few if
any independent members, although, as we have said, independence
is a quality that can be found among members from party backgrounds
as well as from those not affiliated to any party. Nevertheless
the domination of the House by elected party politicians would
irrevocably change the nature of the House and the attitude and
relationship of the House to the Commons and to the Government.
In a fully elected House there could be no question of continuing
membership for the law lords or Church of England bishops (or
other religious representatives). A fully elected House suggests
a smaller House since members might be expected to be largely
69. Even so, the cost is likely to be greater because
elected members will expect to be salaried and will expect facilities
on a par with those in the House of Commons. The transitional
arrangements - i.e. getting from the present House to a fully
elected House - will also be more complex and will need to include
detailed provisions with respect to existing members. The matters
of the length of tenure and any conditions attaching to renewal
and eligibility for entering the Commons would need to be spelt
out. Some consideration also needs to be given to the method of
election. One concern which we have expressed in our Report is
to build upon the representative quality of the existing House
in terms of ethnicity, gender distribution and regional representation.
A first-past-the-post system would seem to us to be likely to
lead to replication of the Commons, particularly if elections
were held at the same time. It would not be possible to ensure
that there was sufficient balance between parties in the second
chamber. We are aware of the difficulties of various methods of
indirect election in a country like ours where there is no federal
structure on which to base it. Nevertheless some form of indirect
election might possibly be a better way of achieving the aims
of representativeness and regional balance in a second chamber.
It will in any case be necessary for further detailed work to
be done on the methods and timing of such elections once the opinion
of the Houses on composition is known. We do, however, recognise
that turnout at any proposed election is likely to be higher if
it coincides with another election.
3 - 80 per cent appointed/20 per cent elected
70. We do not share the view that a House of mixed
composition is necessarily undesirable. Indeed, in certain senses
the House of Lords has always been a mixed House (comprising hereditary
peers by succession, hereditary peers of first creation, ex
officio members, and in recent times life peers). However,
although this model would ensure the entry to the House of a sufficient
number of independents, we can foresee difficulties in holding
a direct election for only twenty per cent of the second House.
Turnout in all elections has fallen to a worryingly low level.
We cannot see an election for a small proportion of the new House
raising any enthusiasm or contributing to a sense of the importance
of the reformed House in the eyes of the electorate.
4 - 80 per cent elected/20 per cent appointed
71. We have said that there may be virtue in a mixed
House. Nevertheless, if the appointed element is pitched as low
as 20 per cent, difficulties will arise. The current working House
consists of 300 or so members but it is a frequently changing
300, depending on the business being considered. The independent
element and the element of expertise need to have a sufficiently
wide base to provide opinion on a vast range of subjects as they
arise in the course of the House's business. With a smaller appointed
element in an elected House of reduced size, that provision is
unlikely to be sufficient or satisfactory. The law lords and the
bishops (or other religious representatives) could not easily
be retained. Moreover, a House of largely elected members is bound
to change the culture of the second House, making it less attractive
for those who wish to remain unaffiliated to party. It will also
make it difficult for part-time members with valuable specialist
knowledge to participate.
5 - 60 per cent appointed/40 per cent elected
72. This balance of composition would provide a more
reasonable basis of independent members and experts who do not
wish to stand for election. It would, on the other hand, provide
a significant elected element, to go some way to meet the demands
of legitimacy. The replacement of a large number of existing members
would imply a long transitional period and a large interim House.
The proportion of elected members could be established over a
period of twelve years rather than at one particular time, easing
6 - 60 per cent elected/40 per cent appointed
73. This model retains the advantages of a mixed
House. Nevertheless, it is a matter of judgement as to whether
a 40 per cent appointed House is sufficient to provide the necessary
diversity of expertise. Two important considerations affecting
this judgement are the size of the new House and the nature of
the transitional arrangements i.e. what happens to the existing
members. This option would imply that the House would be substantially
larger than 600 for a lengthy transitional period.
7 - 50 per cent elected/50 per cent appointed
74. The above arguments broadly
apply to this option as well. However, the exact half-way House
may have some appeal on grounds of mathematical neatness. It would
provide an apparently sufficient balance of electoral legitimacy
on the one hand and of independence and expertise from appointment
on the other.
members and the appointment process
75. If any option other than 2 or 4 above is chosen,
it will be necessary to specify the quota of independent members
within the appointed element so as to ensure that they form about
20 per cent of the House. The appointed element should be nominated
by a new independent statutory Appointments Commission whose principal
function would be to ensure a quality of representativeness and
regional balance in the reformed House.
the Houses decide?
76. Finally, we have considered
the matter of how the Houses should proceed in deciding on the
options. We hope that there will first be "take-note"
debates on this report in both Houses, with the opportunity to
vote on the options coming later, after members have had time
to study both debates. We are convinced that it is essential that
both Houses follow the same procedure in voting on options.
If they do not, the task which we identified in our Special Report,
of establishing how the respective views of each House might be
brought closer together if they differ, will be made a great deal
77. Having considered various
possible methods of approaching the voting, including the possibility
of a ballot, we conclude that the best way of getting an accurate
measure of views in both Houses would be to have a series of motions
put on the different options one after the other, notwithstanding
the normal practice of the Houses in dealing with substantially
similar questions and questions disagreed to. This follows the
precedent used in the case of the Motions on Hunting with Dogs
in both Houses in March 2002.
Accordingly we recommend that a series of motions, each setting
out one of the seven options we have identified, be moved successively
in each House notwithstanding the normal practice in regard to
questions. Members would be free to vote in favour of as many
of the options as they considered acceptable, after a separate
debate on the issues raised in this Report.