Political and Constitutional Reform CommitteeWritten evidence submitted by Michael P Clancy, Director, Law Reform, Law Society of Scotland

I am sorry that I have missed the deadline for submitting comments to the inquiry but as the Committee is still taking oral evidence, I would like to put forward these thoughts on behalf of the Society’s Constitutional Law Sub-Committee.

General Comments

The Society believes that the House of Lords is a valuable revising chamber and plays an essential role in Parliamentary scrutiny of primary legislation. With regard to secondary legislation, the Society believes that an enhanced role for the House of Lords could include operating as a clearing house for orders in council, regulations and other forms of delegated legislation.

Composition

The issue of composition of the House of Lords is essentially a political matter.

However, it is possible to agree with a broad range of characteristics which members of any reform chamber could exhibit as follows:

A measure of democratic legitimacy but not to the extent that the chamber could challenge the pre-eminance of the House of Commons;

A greater degree of independence of the executive and of political parties than the House of Commons;

A non-partisan approach;

A recognised expertise in a range of areas;

Breadth of experience involving at least a proportion of people who are not professional politicians who have a long-term perspective and who represent the nations and regions of the UK. Members of the House of Lords should also have access to knowledge and experience of the EU, legal knowledge, be representative of a range of faith communites and be more representative of society as a whole than the present House of Lords.

Term of Appointments

In response to the House of Lords Reform Bill (2012) the Society stated that the term for ordinary elected and appointed members should be 10 years.

Expulsion

Peers who have been convicted of a serious offence should be subject to expulsion.

Statutory Appointments Commission

A Statutory Appointments Commission would be a desirable development which would put the Commission beyond the influence of politics. Members of the Commission should be chosen in accordance with the Nolan Principles for Public Appointments.

Removal for Non-attendance

There should be measures to remove persistent non-attendees and a retirement age for new peers of 80 years of age.

I hope that the Committee finds these comments helpful.

13 June 2013

Prepared 16th October 2013