Letter: Proposed reforms of the House of Lords

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Sir: J. R. Lucas's proposal (Letters, 9 November) to introduce the referendum in place of the suspensory vote in the House of Lords seems fraught with difficulties, not least the steady reluctance of the British voter to turn up for duty at the polling booths.

A quarter of the electorate sits tight in a general election, more than two-thirds snub the European Parliament polls, local government voting is abysmal. In a volatile political atmosphere, such as we enjoy at present, referendums would presumably come thick and fast. There might be occasions - issues that transcend narrow sectional interests: the Road Construction (Hedgehog Underpasses) (Amendment) Bill, perhaps - when 64 per cent of the electorate (the hardly impressive turnout for the 1975 EEC Membership vote) could be induced to resolve a Lords/Commons impasse. But they would be rarities.

More likely, each referendum would prove a mere forum for the chattering classes. It would do wonders for their egos without adding much to the gloomy subtleties of parliamentary democracy.

Yours faithfully,


Farnborough, Hampshire