Should we have a second chamber made up of randomly selected members of the public?

Bletchleyite

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So I raised this idea on another thread but I think it's worthy of its own.

The premise is that "people who want to govern aren't suitable for it" (sort-of) - so should we replace the Lords with a second chamber made up of randomly selected members of the public in the manner of Jury Service?
 
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Swanny200

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So I raised this idea on another thread but I think it's worthy of its own.

The premise is that "people who want to govern aren't suitable for it" (sort-of) - so should we replace the Lords with a second chamber made up of randomly selected members of the public in the manner of Jury Service?
Would these be permanent and from various demographics of each constituency, it sounds like a great idea, but still ope unfortunately to the backhanders of cronyism from the current government, "Oh so you run a small business in my constituency, here is a grant/handout to help your expansion, just remember me in future".

You also have the issue of the press delving into private lives like they do with celebrity and picking out the smallest bit of dirt to appease their paymasters, again the current government.

There is also the fact that whenever the government are held to account, they squirm out of it and nothing is ever heard of them again, all Jenrick's dodgy indescretions, Patel's dodgy deals with Israel, that is before we come to Boris and all his skeletons, nothing ever comes of it.

Now if the government was to change then we may start to get somewhere.
 

Domh245

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It's an interesting idea, and let's be honest it can't be worse than what we have now! I can't help but feel you'd almost want it the other way around. A primary house with the randomly selected members of public and a second chamber with experts to turn the wishlist style bills from the lower house into functional legislation
 

deltic

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Having been partially involved with a citizens assembly I can see some merit in the idea. But it is a lot to ask someone to effectively have a career break for however many years the session lasts for along with quite a bit of long distance commuting for many although some sessions could be on-line.
 

Bletchleyite

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It's an interesting idea, and let's be honest it can't be worse than what we have now! I can't help but feel you'd almost want it the other way around. A primary house with the randomly selected members of public and a second chamber with experts to turn the wishlist style bills from the lower house into functional legislation
That's an interesting way round - I'd more seen it as a "stupidity filter" as the Lords currently serves (surprisingly well) as.
 

Domh245

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That's an interesting way round - I'd more seen it as a "stupidity filter" as the Lords currently serves (surprisingly well) as.
A third house would probably be better then. A stupidity filter would certainly be welcome but I'd worry about losing the notional expertise of the Lords from a legislative point of view.

The worry about retaining the 'Commons' (although I'd transfer that name to the selected house) is that it still would contain the power hungry types that you want to keep out of power in the premise of the first post
 

najaB

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But it is a lot to ask someone to effectively have a career break for however many years the session lasts for along with quite a bit of long distance commuting for many although some sessions could be on-line.
It wouldn't have to be a full-time job, after all how much time do the current Lords actually spend sitting in debate?
 

GRALISTAIR

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Which instantly makes you more qualified than most of the lot we've got in Parliament at the moment!
Wow a bit cynical but I do understand why some would feel that way.

I know running a country is not the same as running a business but in a company there are specialists. Some are great at accounting, some sales, some marketing, some people stuff (HR) some at operations and some at technical ( that would be me). I have zero desire to be CEO/Managing Director and would not be good at the job. The technical stuff however..... that is how I got my H1 visas and Green Card.
 

ainsworth74

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Will we be able to claim the £323 daily rate that the current Lords do for each days attendance? That might make it somewhat less onerous! :lol:
 

najaB

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I know running a country is not the same as running a business but in a company there are specialists. Some are great at accounting, some sales, some marketing, some people stuff (HR) some at operations and some at technical ( that would be me).
That's what the civil service is there for.
 

deltic

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It wouldn't have to be a full-time job, after all how much time do the current Lords actually spend sitting in debate?
That would probably be even harder to juggle with many jobs. Debates are only a small part of what members of the Lords do - as in the Commons a lot of work is done in committee and a lot of time would need to be spent getting up to speed with whatever issue is being considered.
 

hexagon789

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I'd rather have a significantly smaller (say 200 max) geographically biased (smaller geographic units would get more senators) elected Senate (possibly simply by top-up method coinciding with a General Election rather than a physically seperate election or ballot paper).
 

GRALISTAIR

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Will we be able to claim the £323 daily rate that the current Lords do for each days attendance? That might make it somewhat less onerous! :lol:
that reminds me of a 'Lord' who used to turn up for his daily rate and wouldn't be in there for more than 10 mins!
Bloody disgusting- money some folks can only dream about
 

najaB

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Trouble is that it wouldn't be "random" because, like jury service, there'll be people able to claim exemptions to avoid doing it.
Well, there would be that but jury duty is pretty much all downside so people actively try to get out of it. This could be structured so that there's as much of a personal benefit as there is a detriment.

For example, in addition to the attendance payment people who have "served their country" get a small stipend for life, say £100 a month - not enough to attract people who are just in it to enrich themselves, but enough to make the whole thing more palatable.
 

birchesgreen

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An interesting sci-fi story i read years ago (can't remember the title or author) had a member of the public selected at random by the computer once a year and they were, in effect, the dictator* for that year.

* In a classical sense.
 

edwin_m

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I'd rather have a significantly smaller (say 200 max) geographically biased (smaller geographic units would get more senators) elected Senate (possibly simply by top-up method coinciding with a General Election rather than a physically seperate election or ballot paper).
Wouldn't that just mean that whichever party got into power would also have control of the Senate so would essentially be able to do what it wanted? Might be better to have a longer term for a Senate, or for say a third of them to have to face the voters at each election. That way it acts as a brake on a government that may be hellbent on reversing the actions of its predecessor, and allows people to be there long enough to build expertise in their areas of interest.

Personally I would also oppose any system based on party lists, as it's the epitome of cronyism. Better to have a system that addresses the defects of first past the post by giving a proportion of seats to candidates who lost by the smallest margins.
 

Joel_F

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I kind of like this idea. Best to have it as a third house, as I feel the Lords still has its uses. What kind of matters would be dealt with in this chamber?
 

MotCO

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I'd rather have a significantly smaller (say 200 max) geographically biased (smaller geographic units would get more senators) elected Senate (possibly simply by top-up method coinciding with a General Election rather than a physically seperate election or ballot paper).

Wouldn't that just mean that whichever party got into power would also have control of the Senate so would essentially be able to do what it wanted? Might be better to have a longer term for a Senate, or for say a third of them to have to face the voters at each election. That way it acts as a brake on a government that may be hellbent on reversing the actions of its predecessor, and allows people to be there long enough to build expertise in their areas of interest.
There does seem to be some 'gaming' in the Honours' List. Although we currently have a Conservative majority in the commons, the HofL (if I remember correctly) is about 1/3 Conservative, 1/3 Labour and 1/3 Liberal (plus Bishops, Crossbenchers etc.) Therefore, each Honours' List tends to have more from the ruling party to make the numbers in the Lords more in their favour, and so the merry-round goes on. Initially I thought it would be better for the Lords to have a similar majority as the Commons (to get contentious Bills through), but then there would not be a brake on the excesses of the Commons. The Lords are a revisionary chamber, and generally do follow tradition of not blocking Bills for the sake of it, since in theory the Government always has a minority in the Lords.

I also think that the knowledge and skills of the Lords is often overlooked. Yes, we do have the chancers claiming their £300 per day for doing nothing, but we do have experienced members who do carry out the revisionary work on Bills, and I'm not sure a random selection of Joe and Jo Publics would be able to carry out the work in the same way. I also agree with @edwin_m that an election for the Lords would just give the same balance of power as the Commons; staggering the election dates could lead to the problems America experiences when the President and Senate are of different political persuasions.
 

hexagon789

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staggering the election dates could lead to the problems America experiences when the President and Senate are of different political persuasions.
That would only happen if the Parliament Act of 1911 was revoked, otherwise the Commons could still pass a bill by voting on it again.

My logic was based on not using FPTP and retaining the same set up of how the Lords functions as now - as a revising chamber.

Wouldn't that just mean that whichever party got into power would also have control of the Senate so would essentially be able to do what it wanted? Might be better to have a longer term for a Senate, or for say a third of them to have to face the voters at each election. That way it acts as a brake on a government that may be hellbent on reversing the actions of its predecessor, and allows people to be there long enough to build expertise in their areas of interest.

Personally I would also oppose any system based on party lists, as it's the epitome of cronyism. Better to have a system that addresses the defects of first past the post by giving a proportion of seats to candidates who lost by the smallest margins.
I can see your point though I wasn't thinking of using FPTP but a proportional system
 

Vespa

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Interesting idea but I have my doubts, random members of the public could be anything, the really thick, the impulsive violent, aggressive, calm and considered, the clever up to a university graduates with absolutely brilliant ideas, its far too random for me.

This is why we have professional politicians, it's their roles to negotiate the nuances and Machiavellian intrigue that would confund members of the public and add dealing Europe into the mix.

As the voting system in my own opinion FTTP creates a stable government that gets things done without having to horse trade and negotiate with smaller parties, our rare coalition government haven't been that brilliant to date.

We already had a referendum on Proportional Representation and it has been resoundingly rejected by the electorate.
 

najaB

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Interesting idea but I have my doubts, random members of the public could be anything, the really thick, the impulsive violent, aggressive, calm and considered, the clever up to a university graduates with absolutely brilliant ideas, its far too random for me.
That's actually the point. The house would exist to get the "average man's" view on proposed law and so act as a brake on an out of control government - pretty much what the Lord's are supposed to do, but without the ability to pack the house with loyalists.
 

Fawkes Cat

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My personal take:

- An upper house
- elected by thirds, at the same time as the General Election for the Commons
- by some form of PR
- with far fewer of the restrictions imposed on the Lords by the 1911 Parliament Act
- Commons remains elected by FPTP

So we generally have a party with a majority of seats in the Commons, but to get legislation through it will have to convince an upper house which can argue that (through PR) it has a better mandate than the Commons. But if the Commons are determined to force their legislation through, then it's open to them to call further General Elections, which as above will replace the membership of the upper house a third at a time. Or to put it another way, the electorate will have the chance to vote on whether the Commons are right. And calling an extra election is a high bar to clear - just ask Brenda from Bristol.

What this solution doesn't deal with is how to include experts who would be helpful to Parliament and/or government. I would suggest allowing each house to appoint and dismiss extra members with all the rights of MPs except being able to vote: that way, they could offer advice and even be ministers, and still face parliamentary scrutiny, while not having undemocratic power
 

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