- Elect the Lords
Elect The Lords is a campaign established in September 2004 by the
New Politics Networkand Charter88calling for the United Kingdom House of Lordsto be replaced by a predominantly elected upper house. The campaign was established following Charter88 and the Network's decision to establish a partnership agreement called the Democracy Projectdesigned to kick start a number of democratic reform initiatives in the UK.
House of Lords reform was chosen as a key issue following a controversial vote in Parliament in 2003 when 5 options for reforming the Lords were proposed and all of them were voted down. The least unpopular option however was for an 80% elected / 20% appointed chamber, which fell by three votes in the House of Commons. The most unpopular option was for a wholly appointed House. Despite this, the
governmentwent on to pursue the fully appointed option, moving to remove the remaining hereditary peersfrom the House of Lords in 2004. This option was strongly opposed in Parliament.
Singer-songwriter and political activist
Billy Braggwent on to receive significant attention for his secondary mandatesystem, in which members of the House of Lords would be appointed from party lists in proportion to the number of votes cast for each political party in elections to the House of Commons. This proposal appears to have found favour among a number of government ministers including Peter Hainand Lord Falconer of Thoroton(though Mr Hain later switched to supporting a system of direct election independent of the choice of the Commons). A secondary mandate has not enjoyed any support outside of the Labour Party and is opposed by many democratic reformers as it would exclude independent candidates and severely disadvantage smaller parties. On 21 February 2005, at the launch of the cross-party sponsored Second Chamber of Parliament Bill, Tony Wright (Labour MP for Cannock Chase) described such a system as "dangerous and mad".
Some people favour the idea of an entirely elected Second Chamber, but opponents say that such a chamber would simply duplicate the Commons and become entirely politicised, losing the independence and specialist knowledge that non-political appointed members could provide.
The following organisations are supporters of the Elect the Lords Campaign:
Active Citizens Transform
Alliance Party of Northern Ireland
Campaign for a Democratic Upper House
Electoral Reform Society
English Democrats Party
New Politics Network
* [http://www.electthelords.org.uk Elect the Lords]
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