UK “senate” proposal

The following is promoted from a comment at another thread by Wilf Day. This planting is not mine. Thanks, Wilf, for this information.

The binding coalition agreement says “We will establish a committee to bring forward proposals for a wholly or mainly elected upper chamber on the basis of proportional representation. The committee will come forward with a draft motion by December 2010. It is likely that this will advocate single long terms of office. It is also likely that there will be a grandfathering system for current Peers. In the interim, Lords appointments will be made with the objective of creating a second chamber that is reflective of the share of the vote secured by the political parties in the last general election.”

Here’s December, and the draft is leaked:

“a slimmed down elected ‘senate’ containing just 300 members. The first elections would take place in 2015. . . David Cameron used to refer to overhauling the Lords as a ‘third term issue’ before the election, but has been persuaded the Government should press ahead as quickly as possible. Polls would be based on pure proportional representation, where votes cast precisely reflect the seats allocated.

“It is favoured far more highly by Lib Dems than the alternative vote, the subject of a referendum on reform of the electoral system for the Commons, which is due to take place next year.

“Attention has focused on what the Lib Dems will do if Commons reform is rejected. But sources say that focus is quietly shifting to Lords reform as the ‘glue’ that will keep the Coalition together.”

It sounds like regional list (either open list or flexible list which the UK calls “semi-open”) in the same regions used for the European Parliament. With 100 elected every five years for 15 year terms, that’s 12 regions with something like 14, 12, 11, 9, 9, 9, 9, 8, 7, 5, 4 and 3 senators. The two highest numbers are in the Southeast and London, the same regions that elect Green MEPs, and will presumably elect Green senators. Likely calculated by highest average, it might exclude parties like the BNP (6.2% last year) unless they have regional strongholds.

One thought on “UK “senate” proposal

  1. This is likely a very early draft – reports from early November were that Nick Clegg is struggling to keep the ‘senate’ majority elected and is facing cross-party opposition from peers and many MPs.

    Add into that the fact that the draft bill of the cross-party pre-legislative joint committee was initially meant to be out in December, then January, then February, and is currently scheduled for ‘early in the new year’ – though, as one peer (proposing running repairs of the Lords for the fourth time in as many years) wryly noted, which year is not specified – and this will be interesting indeed to see.

    Even assuming there are no problems in deliberation on the bill, the earliest they can expect the bill to be passed is late 2012. And, perhaps inevitably, there will be problems.

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