Letter: A British senate

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Sir: The current debate on House of Lords reform is dealing with only half the story. The upper chamber is still being portrayed simply as a scrutinising and blocking legislature. But in mature democracies like the United States and Australia, the Senate has a valuable second role. It protects the smaller states from domination by the larger.

Rhode Island sends two senators to Washington; so does California. Tasmania sends ten senators to Canberra; so does New South Wales. The small states are given equal power to block and harry legislation.

A reformed House of Lords might consist of 25 representatives each from England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, putting a brake on domination by South-east England.