Letter: A vote for democracy
Thursday 20 May 1999
A vote for democracy
Sir: The Government in its recent submission to the Wakeham Commission on Lords Reform has decided to oppose an elected second chamber of Parliament.
One of the arguments employed in support of the Government's submission is that an elected second chamber would threaten the supremacy of the Commons. But this is the whole point of having a second chamber. "Supremacy of the Commons" is a euphemism for the supremacy of the government of the day. A second chamber enjoying democratic legitimacy via direct election of its members is probably the single most effective way of checking executive power.
To recognise that the Government has an interest in maintaining the primacy of the executive over Parliament is not a party political point. Every government either begins with or develops anti-democratic tendencies. This is why second chambers are important.
Reform of the Lords represents the greatest opportunity for strengthening British democracy since women gained the vote on equal terms with men in 1928.
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