Abolishing the House of Lords won’t fix the democratic deficit

A petition to hold a referendum on abolishing the House of Lords for their attempts to block Brexit will be debated in parliament after getting more than 149k signatures.

They served us well, let's bring the hereditary peers back. Image credit: thesun.co.uk

Whilst the attempts by the House of Lords to undermine the democratic will of the nation should not go unpunished, just abolishing the upper house without a fundamental reform of how government works would decrease democratic accountability not increase it. The Lords may be unelected but on the whole they do a useful job of moderating the ambition of the Commons. If the upper house is abolished it needs replacing with something else and if it’s replaced it needs to be with something that actually works.

Naturally I have a solution and it’s quite straightforward.

The House of Lords should be abolished and it should be replaced with a federal British parliament. The House of Commons should be abolished as well and replaced with a devolved English parliament. The role that the House of Lords currently performs should be replaced by a constitutional court that has the power to independently call in legislation or act on a petition to review the legality of an act of the federal government. Perhaps controversially I would give the constitutional court authority over the UK’s devolved governments as well.

These changes would bring balance back to the British union, bring decision making closer to the people, improve democratic accountability, reduce the number of politicians and save about half a billion a year in costs. Most importantly it will mean that the career politicians in the House of Commons don’t get given free reign to do whatever they want with no oversight or opposition which is exactly what will happen if the House of Lords is abolished without a replacement.

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