Letter: Reformed Lords

Article excerpt

Sir: The trouble with the House of Lords is that we think of it as a House of Parliament when it is something else. It is a mix between a council of state and a civic forum ("Choice of `People's peers' condemned as sick joke", 27 April).

As a council of state the House of Lords subjects legislation to scrutiny to try to ensure that it is well thought out, well drafted and compatible with human rights, our international obligations and European law. It is also concerned to see that legislation and government policy comply with important principles of our constitution, such as the rule of law and ministerial responsibility.

Such a body must contain independently minded people with the expertise necessary to do the job. It should therefore not be entirely elected and the procedures for appointment must be open. The actual powers of a council of state, when it comes to the crunch, are limited to making the Government think again before pushing measures through, by imposing delay. …