Assess the arguments in favour of a largely or wholly elected second chamber (25)
My teacher gave me 17/25 for this, I'm wondering what I need to do to get marked higher as I'm not sure what else I can do? Want to get in the 20's.
The House of Lords was last reformed in 1999 in which the number of hereditary peers was reduced to 92. Further reforms have been presented by the coalition government in 2010 such as a completely elected second chamber, partly elected second chamber or a completely appointed second chamber. The arguments in favour of an elected second chamber will be discussed and a conclusion reached.
Firstly, it can be argued that by having an elected second chamber is a more democratic solution as the elected members will have the popular consent of the people and can also claim legitimacy, so they effectively have the democratic right to scrutinise legislation and propose amendments. This can be extended further by electing these individuals using an electoral system on the basis of proportional representation, such as Single Transferable vote. This will allow members who support smaller parties to be represented in the House of Lords, such as the Green Party. However, this could mean extremist parties such as the BNP can be represented who may have views which do not serve the best interests of the people. Also, the House of Lords could be seen as more legitimate than the House of Commons as they have been elected using a fairer voting system, this would then bring into question if the House of Commons should be so dominant.
Secondly, by having an elected second chamber makes the members of the House of Lords accountable to the electorate, as currently they are accountable to nobody as they are wholly appointed. So as things stand, the members of the House of Lords have no democratic right to scrutinise legislation and propose amendments as they are unelected. However, it could be argued by making the members accountable via elections will make the electorate more apathetic towards voting. In 2010 the general election turnout was only 65% and the chances are that an election for members of the House of Lords will be an even lower turnout. An obvious fix to this is to make voting compulsory so the members can gain the popular consent via higher turnout figures, however there are problems to making voting compulsory such as "donkey voting" and the intrusion of freedom of the electorate.
Finally, by having an elected second chamber can mean that the House of Lords can serve as a more effective check of proposed government legislation. This is because the elected members may not represent a government majority so legislation cannot be steamrolled through the House of Lords, which may occur if there was a government majority in the House of Lords so members can display party loyalty and advance their careers. The House of Lords may have more authority, this means the government cannot simply ignore proposed amendments from the HOL as they have gained popular consent from the electorate, so they are more legitimate. Ignoring the HOL could result in protests if the amendments ignored are in the best interests of the people. However, a consequence of this is that the House of Commons may face excessive obstruction when trying to pass every law as the HOL may not have a government majority. This can be very time consuming and can mean that time is wasted debating more important issues. However, the power of the government is protected by the Parliament acts (1911,1949) so financial matter cannot be delayed by the HOL. Also, the Salisbury Convention restricts the HOL, not allowing them to delay any proposals made by the government in their election manifesto.
To conclude, the arguments in favour of an elected second chamber are stronger than the arguments against proposed. To be an effective check on government power the HOL needs democratic consent and legitimacy. A partly elected second chamber is also an option so the HOC will be more legitimate than the HOL so excessive obstruction can be restricted, even though this is supported by the Parliament acts and the Salisbury convention. All these factors considered propose that the HOL requires reform.
Be more consistent with your argument from the start, give the examiner an idea of how you'll conclude before they reach it.
More evidence! Throw as much evidence in as possible, I know it's difficult but towards the end of your essay the evidence was strongly lacking.
A stronger conclusion
Throw some political theory in there.
A few more counter arguments would strengthen this
In your intro explain the basic idea of the question more: what the Lords is, how it's the upper chamber but is subordinate to commons due to limited powers, its composition etc... Also don't say 'The arguments in favour of an elected second chamber will be discussed and a conclusion reached.' you want an intro along the lines of:
'The house of Lords, the upper chamber in the bicameral British legislature that is Parliament, has been subject to heated controversy following the election of Blair's New Labour government in 1997 as a result of promised reform set-out in the party's manifesto of that year. Since this manifesto various reforms have taken place with further reform being suggested (White papers of 2001, 2003, 2007 and 2008), moreover the 2012 House of Lords Reform Act sought to alter the house to be fully elected by 2020, yet this, as well as other proposals after the 1999 House of Lords Act, failed. Despite these reform proposals, the House still remains unelected and the chamber lacks legitimacy as a result of this, leaving the chamber in a state of reform deadlock. However, Blair's reform arguably improved the chamber's scrutiny quality, yet arguments still circulate regarding further reform of the chamber. The nearest alternative is abolition, however the consequences would arguably be worse than those of reform, making reform the better option.'
You've missed a key argument in the event of a wholly elected chamber: It too will share a mandate making it more legitimate which will cause institutional conflict to Commons and in turn, this may lead to gridlock as happens in the American Congress which led to the 2013 and 1992 government shutdowns, thus this could be a huge issue.
Party control would become more prominent if it were elected, thus undermining the Lords' expertise and cross benchers' reputation, possibly leading to more rather than less executive dominance in comparison to the status quo.
try and address the 'shades of grey' of the question that aren't covered. Ie: abolition, debates etc...
In an effort to cut welfare costs, Britain’s chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, proposed reducing tax credits intended to help low-paid workers. As compensation, he has ordered employers to pay a new national living wage (rising to about $14 an hour by 2020). The plan would trim spending by $6.7 billion, but its opponents include some fellow Conservatives who argue that Mr. Osborne will be penalizing the very working people whom his party is trying to woo.
The relationship between the House of Commons and the House of Lords is defined by a series of conventions and assumptions, some, though not all, formalized in the Parliament Acts of 1911 and 1949. One is the rule that the Lords will not oppose a measure that the governing party has promised in its election manifesto. Another is the understanding that the Lords will not interfere with a finance bill.
But much is left open to political interpretation. In this instance, the Upper House deemed that the measure was not covered by either prohibition. Instead, its members considered a variety of motions on the tax credit proposals. After much debate, they voted to send Mr. Osborne back to the drawing board.
The chancellor’s response is expected on Nov. 25, when he will set out a fiscal strategy to eradicate the deficit and bring Britain back into a budget surplus by 2019-20. As part of this, Mr. Osborne will indicate how he plans to alleviate the pain that his tax credit cuts will cause.
What is astonishing is that a mutiny by a legislative chamber without a single elected member could command such a change of course. The closest the House of Lords gets to democracy is when its 821 members vote to choose a new hereditary peer (most are appointed for life, and cannot pass on their title or their seat in the chamber to an heir).
This arrangement was in itself the result of a trade-off both bizarre and entirely in keeping with the curious history of the House. In 1999, the hereditary lords were expelled from Parliament by Prime Minister Tony Blair — only for some to be readmitted by an internal election process. Today, there are 88 such “excepted hereditary peers.” No less remarkably, 25 Church of England bishops are entitled to sit on the red benches of the House.
Of the remainder, the life peers, who are a majority in the House, some are nominated by the main political parties, while others are selected by a parliamentary commission from the nonpartisan pool of people who have gained distinction in the professions, academia or science.
How, in 2015, can one defend an unelected club forming part of the legislature — a heritage site masquerading as a modern institution? With difficulty. Back in 1912, Prime Minister Herbert Asquith declared that an overhaul of this constitutional dinosaur would “brook no delay.” Yet delay is all there has been.
Every time the Lords blocks a government initiative there is fresh talk of reform, a radical plan to install an elected senate. In 2012, the Conservative-Liberal Democrat Coalition proposed a mostly elected body, with a much smaller membership, and 15-year terms.
But this new, democratically legitimate Upper House represented a threat to the supposed primacy of the Lower House. And thus Conservative rebels in the Commons thwarted the bill — triggering the worst political crisis in the Coalition’s five years.
This gets to the heart of the matter: the odd asymmetry of the British Parliament. The system looks bicameral, a palace of two chambers, like the American Congress. But this is an illusion.
In practice, the British legislature is unicameral. All authority, including the right to govern, flows from the Commons, which takes its power, in turn, from those who elect its members.
In the Lords, Parliament has not a senate, but a distinguished annex, full of wisdom, experience and specialist knowledge. It can obstruct the Commons, but the Commons wins in the end. If Mr. Osborne wanted to force the issue, there are various procedural tools he could use.
The problem of the tax credits, he knew, was political rather than constitutional. This recent disagreement will not lead to the root-and-branch reform that the Lords patently requires. Yes, the system is indefensible — apart from the fact that, most of the time, it works.
Everyone knows that Lords reform is inevitable. That was clear a century ago. But what’s the hurry?Continue reading the main story