Memorandum by Brian White MP (LR 51)
Letter to the Lord Chancellor
I believe that White Paper misses a historic
opportunity to reorganise our constitution by ensuring we have
democratic accountability of all Parliamentarians.
The only Chamber that does this is the House
of Commons and therefore I believe that we should be a unicameral
state with devolved administrations including in the English Regions.
However I recognise that this may be a step
too far and if we are to have a second chamber then it should
at least be fully elected. It should be of the order of 200-300
full time parliamentarians in the second chamber. They should
be completely divorced from titles which can continue or not as
they are an irrelevance.
As a compromise I would be willing to support
the views expressed by a majority of the Parliamentary Labour
Party backbenchers who arrived at the figure of 58 per cent or
the Conservative Party position of 80 per cent elected although
not on shire county boundaries.
I don't believe that whatever comes out of this
consultation is the end of the process and there will continue
to be pressure in our pluralistic society for further reform.
We should welcome that and not see it as failing.
One of the main arguments for appointment is
that the second chamber uses its experience and needs to retain
the involvement of specialists and other key views of people with
particular expertise. This could be easily accommodated by designating
such people with a title and a role as a super specialist advisor
who would have the right to be heard by committees on their specialism(s)/area
of expertise but would not have the vote.
The argument that life peers were given an expectation
they would be there for life is nonsense. Many people thought
they had a job for life and thought they had been promised a cradle
to grave welfare state but Parliament took them away without compunction.
Why should already privileged people be treated any differently.
I am in favour of a voluntary redundancy package but if they won't
go quietly then the Government should have no compunction in making
them compulsorily redundant.
If we have an elected Chamber it should be through
an open regional list. At all cost we much avoid returning to
shire county boundaries which reinforce the historical Conservative
bias of Parliament.