Select Committee on Public Administration Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence

Supplementary Memorandum by The Lord Rix CBE (LR 13(a))

  Opinion seems to be shifting towards a larger elected element in the membership of the new/reformed House. At the same time, it is recognised that:

    —  Having two Houses with a membership elected on conventional lines would confuse rather than clarify the constitutional position.

    —  Having one House elected on convention lines and another on a PR basis could initiate a compeition between the Houses on representation and democracy.

    —  There is not as yet in this country a clear alternative constituency for elections to the new House, as there is in federal states. There would clearly be considerable and extended dispute over any such alternative approach to democracy—with all the discussion which will ensue regarding the House of Lords Reform. The time left between now and the next Election is such that the realistic goal is to allow no (or very modest) change until that Election, introduction of a significant elected element at that Election, and a fully (or nearly fully) reformed House achieved through attrition, election and appointment by 2015.

    —  There is sufficient uncertainty about the number of Life Peers able and willng to continue to serve to put in doubt the achievement of a fully reformed House by 2015. This could also argue for encouraging "early retirement" by a financial settlement based on years of service and frequency of attendance—skewing compensation towards those who contributed most to the former House.

  I therefore propose as an alternative to my previous submission, for the longer term:

    "Elected" (political) members to be increased to 240 from 120, that is to 40 per cent of a 600 strong house. I suggest that while the original 120 should be directly elected on traditional first past the post lines, the additional 120 should be drawn from Party lists according to the proportion of the popular vote votes received by each Party at the relevant Election. This proportional representation based on the Election votes would be subject to a de minimis rule of no representation for any Party with less that 5 per cent of the popular votes.

  As the 240 members would all be in some sense elected, they would serve for only five years or one electoral cycle before having to seek a renewed mandate. The remaining 180 political appointees and the 120 crossbenchers would serve for ten years, or two electoral cycles.

  If the reformed House is to be more weighted than the House of Commons towards wisdom based on experience, it would be beneficial to insist on both those seeking appointment and those seeking election having at least 20 years relevant experience, including political experience where relevant. This would also serve to discourage young politicians from using the House as a stepping stone to the House of Commonss or the European Parliament.

  The "elected" members would also include representatives from the minor Parties, and this would free up a total of 20 places for appointment by the Party Leaders as Front Bench spokespersons for the period until the next Election.

  Assuming that the political spectrum more than two decades hence is broadly similar to that with which we are now familiar, the 180 10 year political appointments would be split roughly 60 labour, 60 Conservative, 60 Liberal Democrat and others—as a solid political core to be balanced at each election by the directly elected political members and PR appointments.

  Thus by 2015 there would be:

Directly elected Members of the Reformed House (five years)
Appointed on the basis of proportional representation (five years)
Political appointments (10 years)
Bishops and Law Lords (for the period of their office)
Front Bench appointments (five years)
Cross bench (10 years)
Five years = One Electoral Cycle; 10 years = Two Electoral Cycles

  Those whose term of election/appointment ended would be eligible for re-election/appointment.

Lord Rix

January 2002

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