House of Lords should be turned into senate symbolising the four nations of the UK says Malcolm Rifkind
The House of Lords should be turned into a senate symbolising the four nations of the UK according to former Conservative minister Sir Malcolm Rifkind.
In a lecture on the history of the union and his thoughts on devolution, he said that the new upper chamber should be able to contemplate various changes to the constitution of the UK and Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland’s place within it.
The time may have come for reform of the House of Lords into a partially-elected senate, Malcolm Rifkind said in a lecture at the University of Edinburgh today.
“I think one change that is worth considering is a reform not in Edinburgh or Cardiff, but in Westminster itself,” he said.
“We have an upper house, the House of Lords – it does very good work, I’m not going to be rude or unpleasant about it, it does a lot of very important revising work.
“But I wonder whether the time has come to have something that reflects more the age we live in, perhaps something more of a senate.
“Maybe elected, not necessarily 100% elected.
“I think there is a case for appointing members who have already made a contribution to some aspect of public life and whose advice and experience would be valuable.”
He continued: “When constitutional issues have to be discussed, then what better place to do that than in the less heated atmosphere of the upper house?
“Where the merits and demerits of various changes might be contemplated?”
Sir Malcolm said this change was unlikely to happen in the short term but noted former prime minister Gordon Brown had made similar proposals.
Answering questions from the audience in the university’s Playfair Library, the former MP said the UK’s parliament had evolved over the centuries and further evolution may be required.
He said: “This is a personal view, I’m not speaking on behalf of my party or anybody else.
“I think there is a growing case. We have an upper house, we want to continue having an upper house because a revising chamber is useful.
“But should it be a House of Lords and need it still continue to have hereditary people sitting in it?”
The lecture was hosted by the university’s Centre on Constitutional Change, in association with the Sir Edward Heath Charitable Foundation.
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