Memorandum by Lord Judd (LR 18)
Thank you for your letter telling me of the
Inquiry your Select Committee is planning to hold into the proposed
system for appointments to the Lords and related issues. I would
make the following comments:
1. The UK is a pluralist society. Our democratic
institutions need to reflect that pluralism and a second chamber
can make a vital contribution in that respect. This should be
extended to religious representation where the number of Anglican
bishops is to be reduced but where they alone will still be there
as of right while other denominations and religions will be at
the discretion of the Appointments Commission. The establishment
of the Church of England does, of course, complicate the issue,
as does the monarch's role as head of the Church; but if we are
really recognising that we are a pluralist society this arrangement
scarcely reflects it. I speak as an Anglican!
2. Power and authority should continue to
lie with the Commons. The Second Chamber should be about reflection
and advice. Care must be taken not to introduce, even inadvertently,
a competition for power between the two houses.
3. I have always felt that, while a directly
elected Second Chamber may sound attractive, there would be difficulties
in relating it to the two points above and that it could well
reinforce the trend towards a "closed" political community
rather than opening up politics to those with wider experience
and independence of mind and judgement. I am therefore supportive
of the decision to keep a majority of appointed members, but I
would like to see a larger proportion of these appointed by the
Commission rather than nominated by political parties.
4. While reflection and advice should be
a prime responsibility, the Second Chamber should also make a
point of being able to initiate debates on issues of significance
which have not somehow made it onto the legislative agenda of
the Commons. In other words, the Second Chamber should not be
merely passively responsive to what comes from the Commons.
5. As a layman I do not quite see how the
separation of the judiciary and the executive is to be underlined
if the Second Chamber is to be a working political place and active
judges (and the Lord Chancellor!) are still to be there.
6. Hereditary peerage has no place in a
Second Chamber for the future. However, it should be recognised
that some of the hereditary peers who are still with us continue
to make an important contribution, sometimes greater than that
made by some life peers. A way of giving those that do the opportunity
to become working members should be envisaged; and convincing
recognition of what they have done and still do should be generous
7. As we move into a new chapter in our
constitutional history, we should not keep the old terminology.
I welcome the proposed future break between membership of the
House of Lords (ML) and being a Lord, but I also feel that a genuinely
new Second Chamber should not continue to be called "House
of Lords". To do so, and to retain the title "Lord"
and "Baroness", will inevitably smack of just another
new social elite wanting to take over from the old social elite.
A new name should be found. Members should be properly remunerated
and resourced so that nobody is debarred from memberships by limited
wealth or by the nature of his or her employment; and there should
be a retirement age.
8. Increasingly, key social, economic and
other decisions are taken in multilateral institutions. The Second
Chamber should have a specific responsibility to scrutinise what
goes on it those multilateral institutions and what part the representatives
of the UK are playing in them. The European Committee and its
Sub-Committees in our present House do a good job, but the taskthe
UN system, IMF, World Bank, OECD, G8, NATO etcis far wider
than Europe alone. Meanwhile Lords who are members of delegations
to the Council of Europe, NATO, OSCE etc should report back regularly
at least to their own parties.
I am sorry if this is long, but I have inevitably
thought a good deal about it. I look forward to reading the Committee's
findings in due course.