SUMMARY OF CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
(a) Reform is not a zero-sum game in which
advances for one chamber are inevitably threats to the other.
That is where the White Paper is fundamentally misconceived, as
was the Royal Commission, in its oft-repeated determination to
ensure the pre-eminence of the House of Commons. No-one is casting
any doubt on that pre-eminence. We believe that the real task
is rather to increase the effectiveness of both chambers in holding
the Government to account for its actions and policies. The focus
should be on the capacities of the institution as a whole.
(b) We agree with the Government that
no major change is required to the role or functions of the second
chamber. It should continue to be a revising, scrutinising and
deliberative assembly. But its performance of all these functions
can and should be strengthened.
(c) If the Government proceeds with its
proposal to remove the veto power of the House of Lords over secondary
legislation, then there should be a fixed minimum delay of three
months and a requirement that the Commons would have to reconfirm
its previous decision in each case.
(d) We do not believe the Government has
made its case for reducing the Lords' powers over subordinate
legislation. The preponderance of evidence is in favour of the
chamber retaining its existing powers. The existing power of veto
(e) To fulfill the condition that the
second chamber should be predominantly elected, we therefore recommend
that 60 per cent of its members should come by election. Of the
remainder, half (20 per cent of the total) should be nominated
by the political parties; and half (20 per cent of the total)
should be independent, non-aligned members; both categories should
be appointed by the Appointments Commission. We further
recommend that a draft Bill should contain options for the precise
proportion of elected and appointed members.
(f) We recommend that all members of the
second chamber should serve for similar periods and for long terms;
should enjoy equal facilities; and should receive the same pay
and conditions of service.
(g) We agree with the Government that
elections for the second chamber should be based on the same regional
constituencies as those used in the European Parliament elections.
These members are to represent the 'nations and regions', and
it makes sense for their constituencies to match the nations and
regions of the UK. It also helps to distinguish them further from
MPs in the House of Commons: the larger the area, the less likely
they are to do constituency work. We also recommend a formal convention
to prevent this.
(h) If the numbers of elected members
prove to be too great to be accommodated in just twelve regional
constituencies across the UK, we recommend that the Electoral
Commission be invited to draw a new set of sub-regional boundaries.
(i) We recommend that any voting system
for the second chamber should satisfy the following general principles.
It needs to:
- be complementary to the voting system for
the House of Commons;
- minimise the risk of one party gaining an
- maximise voter choice, by enabling voters
to vote for individual candidates, within and across parties;
- encourage a more diverse chamber; and
- encourage the election of independent-minded
These principles will best be realised by using
multi-member constituencies, and a proportional voting system.
This could be either STV or regional lists, so long as the lists
are fully open lists, which maximise voter choice. We would not
support limited open lists, which present an appearance of choice
for the voter, but almost never affect the outcome.
(j) We recommend that second chamber elections
should take place at the same time as General Elections.
(k) We recommend that elections to the
second chamber should be staggered.
(l) We recommend that elected second chamber
members should serve a single term extending to two Parliaments.
No member of the second chamber should be permitted to stand for
election to the Commons for ten years after leaving the second
chamber. These restrictions would apply from the next general
election. Political parties should not be allowed to nominate
for appointment anyone who has served as an elected member of
the second chamber.
(m) We recommend that the parties should
submit lists of party nominees to the Appointments Commission,
ranked if they wish in order of preference, but that the Commission
should make the final selection. The Appointments Commission would
take the final decision on those who are to represent their parties.
If the Government is unable to agree to this recommendation, which
we regard as fundamental, then we recommend that there should
be no separate element of party nominees in the second chamber
and that its composition should consist of 70 per cent directly
elected members and 30 per cent independent appointees.
(n) If elected members are allowed a single
two-Parliament term, then we believe a limit of ten years should
apply to appointed members; with no possibility of gaining a second
term by switching categories.
(o) The Committee do not believe that
the involvement of the executive in the selection of a body which
is meant to be directly accountable to Parliament is appropriate.
Parliament should take firmer hold of the process, so that the
credibility of the new Appointments Commission can be properly
(p) We believe that it is time Parliament
took full responsibility for the recruitment and appointment of
bodies which are directly accountable to Parliament. We suggest
that a committee of senior members of both Houses should examine
how best this should be done.
(q) As a signal that the Appointments
Commission should take very seriously the aim of producing a House
which is more diverse, we recommend that the Commission should
itself be more diverse.
(r) We recommend that the Appointments
Commission should allocate the numbers of politically nominated
members to each party, based on the share of the vote won by the
parties in the most recent second chamber election.
(s) We recommend that the law lords should
leave the second chamber at the next general election but one.
(t) We recommend that the Bishops of the
Church of England should no longer sit ex officio from
the time of the next general election but one.
(u) We recommend that the size of the
second chamber when all elected members have joined should be
clearly established and that it be set at up to 350. This figure
would be very much the upper limit of the acceptable range.
(v) We recommend that a review of the
effect of these changes should be held when the maximum number
of elected members have entered the second chamber.
(w) We recommend that the research and
other resources available to members of the second chamber should
be adequate for the role that it is required to perform. We further
recommend that this should be kept under regular review.
(x) We recommend that the Senior Salaries
Review Body should review the question of payment of members when
the reformed chamber has been operating for a number of years.
(y) We recommend that a joint committee
of both Houses be established to examine proposals on improving
co-operation in scrutiny of legislation and of the executive.
It should be asked to report within a year. This need not delay,
but should complement, progress on the general reform of the second
(z) We recommend that membership of the
second chamber should no longer be linked with any honour, including
(aa) We recommend, that it would be better
to adopt the name "second chamber", to emphasise its
complementary role in Parliament. The ancestral name "House
of Lords" would slowly slip into desuetude. The members of
the second chamber could be entitled, on the analogy of the members
of the Scottish Parliament (MSPs), Members of the Second Chamber
(bb) We recommend that the remaining hereditary
peers should leave the second chamber when the reform Act comes
(cc) We recommend that all life peers
should remain in the second chamber until the next general election.
An appropriate scheme of payments should be offered to members
who wished to withdraw from the second chamber. The appointments
commission should not make appointments until the next general
(dd) We recommend that one or more elections
should be held among the life peers, at the same time as general
elections, to reduce their numbers by stages to zero.
(ee) In our view the next step would be
the production of a draft Bill for consideration by a joint committee
of both Houses as soon as possible and we so recommend.