Letter: Peer pressures

Sir: T Horsnell (letter, 19 October) is right about what should replace the hereditary principle in the House of Lords. Random selection is the democratic answer. Appointment simply gives power to the executive. Voting produces a ruling elite.

Everybody knew this from Herodotus and Aristotle until the 18th century. Since then it has been forgotten. But common sense proclaims that it is the only way for ordinary people who are not power-hungry or self-promoting to be given a say. Mathematics shows that a parliament-size body, randomly selected, is bound to contain a member of every minority (the rich and the clever and the saintly as well as their opposites). History can point to states like Athens and Venice that have used the principle and been phenomenally successful.

It could prove a powerful tonic for us, and our House of Lords is ideal for the experiment as its constitutional powers have been carefully tailored over the centuries so that it can do good but no harm.