Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Unlock Democracy: Elect The Lords

As you will have gathered from the news over the past 24 hours, the Joint Committee on the Draft House of Lords Reform Bill finally published its report yesterday[1].

This represents our best opportunity to hold elections for the House of Lords since Parliament first committed itself to holding them over 100 years ago.

With the light at the end of the tunnel now in sight, we can’t let this opportunity pass; will you write to your MP today and ask them where they stand?

Write to your MP

Overall, the Joint Committee has endorsed the government’s proposal to hold the first elections to the House of Lords in 2015, aiming for an 80% elected second chamber by 25 years.

This report is highly significant. A group of MPs and peers have come together on behalf of the main parties and crossbench lords and agreed a set of proposals. Some of the awkward squad on the committee have come up with their own “minority report” but it is a confused and rambling mess; most significantly, the authors of the minority report themselves couldn’t agree on whether to introduce elections to the Lords. It is clear that the only meaningful consensus is for reform.

We don’t agree with everything the report has to say but there is much in the report that we strongly endorse. What’s more, they appear to have agreed quite a lot with us. The report cites Unlock Democracy 46 times and adopts several of our recommendations. Thanks a lot to our thousands of supporters who took part in our consultation response and submitted their own evidence: you made a real difference.

But now the focus is squarely back on MPs: we have a workable consensus position now; will they stick to their manifesto commitments or not? The House of Lords Reform Bill will now almost certainly be included in the Queen’s Speech next month, with MPs set to debate it in the next few weeks. We’ve written to them already but we need you, as their constituents, to put pressure on them as well.

We’ve modified our tool so that if we have already received your MP’s response we won’t ask you to ask them again. Simply click on this link to get started:

Write to your MP

Ignore the nay-sayers; we have a golden opportunity here. It may not be the top issue on everyone’s agenda, but the public is overwhelmingly in support of reform. On Monday we published a poll showing that 69% want at least half the Lords elected (33% want fully elected) - just 5% want to stick with a fully appointed upper house[2]. What they really want is for politicians to stop making excuses and to get on with it. With your help we can help concentrate their minds.

Thank you,

Peter Facey
Director, Unlock Democracy

[1] See http://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/joint-select/draft-house-of-lords-reform-bill/news/publication-of-report/
[2] See http://www.unlockdemocracy.org.uk/media/news/entry/clear-majority-want-lords-reform