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POLICY ON REFORM OF THE HOUSE OF LORDS

Introduction

The Democratic Party approaches House of Lords Reform without political ideology and can thus design a Senate (ie a revising Chamber etc.) from first principles.

The House of Lords should be a revising Chamber, a guardian of democracy and the highest court of common law.

Powers

Hence the powers of the House of Lords should be: -

a) to advise the House of Commons on legislation it has received from the lower house.

b) to delay legislation on which it disagrees with the House of Commons by 12 months, and demand that the primary Chamber votes again on the point at issue.

c) the guardian of democracy in two ways. Firstly, to dissolve the Commons, if necessary, at the end of the normal five year period. Secondly, to dissolve the House of Commons and call a General Election if, in the opinion of 80% of the House of Lords, the Commons has exceeded its authority, or is acting undemocratically.

Be the highest court of common law in Britain, i.e. to be the highest Court of Appeal.

Composition

To achieve the above objectives requires a composition offering both democratic limitation and the necessary level of expertise.

The following would provide both functions:-

Approximately 200 elected members based upon a county/population formula to ensure even representation. A further 200 members from the leading institutions in Britain representing Doctors, Nurses, Trades Unions, Accountants, Lawyers, Engineers, Universities, Schools, Animal Welfare organisations, Employers, the Clergy, and many others. The institutions will choose their delegates democratically by vote of the membership. If the governing council of an institution decides that a delegate should be replaced between elections because of malpractice of the individual, the ruling council shall have the necessary authority to nominate a replacement.

Administration

The new House of Lords is to be elected two years after a General Election and to run for a fixed 5-year period. Directly elected and institutional members to be elected on a "first past the post" basis.

Transitional Arrangements

To achieve a satisfactory transfer of responsibility from the existing House of Lords to the new one, we believe the following should apply: -

That existing Peers should retire at 80 years old or on December 31st, 2006, whichever is later. This arrangement would ensure continuity over the transitional period.

Existing peers can, of course, present themselves for re-election when their experience and past record may stand them in good stead.

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