"Reform of Lords not Revenge on Lords needed, time for a Citizens Convention"

Posted on 17 December 2015 (Permalink)

Piecemeal approach to constitutional change 'continues to fail UK democracy'


In the light of today's announcement on Lords' powers, Graham Allen MP today condemned the approach of successive governments to constitutional reform.


To see Graham question Chris Grayling about the Review, click here: http://goo.gl/nMHU7i 


Mr Allen, chair of the House of Commons Political and Constitutional Reform Committee from 2010 until its abolition earlier this year said:


"Whatever view one may take of the substantive merits of the announcement made today, there can be no question that it involves an issue of major importance. It engages the way in which the central institution of our democratic system, the UK Parliament, legislates for the entire country. The casual, undemocratic way in which these proposals have been produced is therefore completely inappropriate to the gravity of the matters it addresses.


"Furthermore, we cannot treat this particular constitutional issue in isolation from others. If the problem with the Lords blocking measures emerging from the Commons is that the Commons is elected and the Lords is not, why are we not be provided with the option of an elected second chamber? And at a time when tensions in the territorial governance of the UK are threatening to destroy the Union, why are we not considering whether a reformed Lords could help bind the UK more firmly together?


"Furthermore, this process has exposed problems in the very way in which our unwritten constitution changes. Major alterations in our system of governance should not be the product of a closed and narrow internal process, backed up by party discipline. In other countries, constitutional amendment is a more inclusive activity, involving a genuine consensus across different political groups and the wider public.


"It is clearly time that we took a wider look at a whole constitutional system, through a specially convened constitution, comprising representatives of all parties and none, and members of the public. Only by this means can we hope to form a more stable democracy for the whole UK".