Letter: A check on power

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The Independent Culture
Sir: We need the House of Lords at the moment simply because the Commons has lost control of the executive, and the Lords serves as the only damper on the powers of elective dictatorship. Truly proportional representation in the Commons ( much further than Jenkins) would address that problem, and we would not then need the Lords.

However, objectors to truly proportional representation express concerns about the potential weakness of the coalition executives which would have to emerge from a truly proportional Commons. Instead, we should perhaps seek to elect an effective executive independently, on the lines of the US President or the London Mayor, held accountable by a truly proportional single-level supervisory institution (the Commons).

Whilst such a combination should perhaps be seen as a long-term goal, it does highlight the need to keep open the opportunity for further reform. We should err on the side of truly proportional representation for the Commons, even at the potential risk of weak coalition executives in the short term.

If the "top" institution (the Commons) is truly proportional, it always has the potential to reform itself and/or the "lower" institutions (including the executive). If the top institution were in the pocket of an elective dictatorship, the current dictator would always have a vested interest and the power to resist such reform.

TIM KNIGHT

London SW17

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