'A DASH OF REALISM'
Southern Daily Echo – 3 August 2012
It is hardly surprising that Liberal Democrats like Brian Dash (Letters, July 14) and David Harrison (Letters, July 23) are desperate to replace the House of Lords with an elected second chamber.
If this happened there is a distinct possibility that – under proportional representation – the present temporary situation whereby the Liberals hold the balance of power between the two main parties in the Commons would be permanently replicated in the Lords.
We have already seen how willing the Liberals are to blackmail the larger parties by playing one off against the other. Instead of this happening – as at present – only rarely, it would probably happen all the time thanks to PR.
Not only would the Liberals ruthlessly exploit this advantage, Parliament would also lose the improvements to legislation which experts, who have reached the top of their profession, bring to the process of legislation. What the House of Lords does is something which a chamber of elected machine politicians cannot do; it provides experts to refine Bills while all the time accepting that the democratically elected Commons will have the final say.
To sum up: we can either have one elected chamber of MPs and one subordinate appointed chamber of experts, as at present, or we can kick out the experts and have two elected chambers of professional politicians. The former system works well. The latter would be a recipe for conflict, deadlock and – above all – backroom deal-making which the Liberals love but most of us rightly detest.
(Dr) JULIAN LEWIS MP
House of Commons
London SW1A 0AA