Friday, 6 July 2012

Unlock Democracy: The Big One


The government finally published the House of Lords Reform Bill this morning. Their proposals are for a much smaller chamber (half the size it is currently) with 80% directly elected by the public.

This is it - over the next few months the House of Commons will be thrashing out the details of this bill and if we want to see this long delayed reform happen, we need to make sure they support it. Can you write to your MP to ask their position today?

http://action.unlockdemocracy.org.uk/lords-reform

This set of proposals has come about as a result of years of painstaking cross-party negotiations and consultation sessions. All three parties have formally supported a largely elected second chamber since 2001. The bill draws from a plan originally drafted by a cross-party group of MPs (Ken Clarke, Sir George Young, Paul Tyler, Tony Wright and the late Robin Cook) in 2005. They are substantially very similar to the proposals published by the then Labour Lord Chancellor Jack Straw in 2009.

They also take on board a whole series of changes as recommended by the Joint Committee of both houses of Parliament which looked at the draft bill and reported its findings earlier this year. Thousands of Unlock Democracy supporters submitted their views to the Joint Committee, the vast majority of whom were broadly supportive. This is the closest to political consensus we’re ever likely to get.

Of course there will be disagreements, but at this stage, there isn’t really much point in quibbling over the details. The proposals will either stand or fall as they are. The indications are that Labour will support the bill, with reservations, but a group of rebels on both sides of the Commons are determined ensure the bill falls, largely for narrow partisan reasons. We can’t afford to let this reform get blocked once again because of political self-interest.

With this in mind, I’m asking you to do one simple thing today: write to your MP to ask them whether they will be supporting the proposals or not - and send us the reply you get. All we need to know at this stage is their position (of course if you want to try convincing them, that’s up to you!).

If you think you already know where your MP stands - we are still keen for you to write to them.The more correspondence MPs receive on Lords reform over the next few weeks, the better. It may help them decide whether they rebel against their party whip, or merely abstain. It’s crucial we put them under as much pressure as possible.

So please write to your MP right now. Our website will make it easy for you:

http://action.unlockdemocracy.org.uk/lords-reform

Many thanks,

Peter Facey
Director, Unlock Democracy