Randomly-selected second chamber

Proposer
Floppy
State

Accepted

Vote Score

3

Age

2420 days


@Floppy edited manifesto/democracy.md - over 6 years ago

Allow for full and proper recall of MPs: any e-petition to recall their MP supported by 20% of all registered constituency electors should trigger a local referendum (yes/no majority vote required) as to whether to hold a fresh byelection.

Elected House of Lords

Lords Reform

Create an elected Upper House of Parliament for single 15 year terms, with the explicit purpose of revising and improving (not vetoing) legislation initiated by HM Government in the House of Commons.

Replace the House of Lords with a second chamber made up of randomly-selected citizens tasked with reviewing and amending legislation created by the House of Commons.

Abolish automatic appointment of bishops to the House of Lords.

Citizens are selected from the electoral roll, serve a single 5-year term, and one fifth of the chamber is changed each year. Leave from work is legally protected, and help back to work included in the cost.

Party Funding

Floppy

@Floppy - over 6 years ago

Based on the citizen panels idea from Rebooting Democracy.

philipjohn

@philipjohn - over 6 years ago

I had exactly the same idea whilst reading Rebooting Democracy :) so I'm a πŸ‘

One question though: the 5 year term would be full time? I was thinking that either very short, or legislation-specific terms would be better. Given the deliberation involved, it wouldn't be good to have the House of Citizens ;) deliberate on a piece of legislation only for their term to be up before it could finish. Unless of course, we're synchronising with the Commons...?

philipjohn

@philipjohn - over 6 years ago

Oh and the 5 year impact on someone's life could be huge...especially if we're making this compulsory, because it could ruin their career prospects. So for that reason alone in fact I'd be more inclined to say legislation-specific citizen panels, rather than a consistent house with a 5 year term.

Floppy

@Floppy - over 6 years ago

The core arguments for a random selection (from Rebooting Democracy) are:

1) Elected representatives are mostly just as uninformed as the general population and have advisors to help them reach their decision, so it doesn't tend to matter that random selectees don't "know what they're being asked about".

2) Experience shows that getting together a random group to deliberate on something with evidence presented to them leads to generally rational decisions. Such groups are designed to bring out "System 2" deliberative thinking, which everyone can do, but doesn't always get the chance to.

3) Removes the "political elite" factor, and produces a decision-making group that reflects the actual population correctly.

4) This house wouldn't be initiating legislation, that would still be the directly-elected representatives, just deliberating on it and reviewing it.

@Floppy edited manifesto/democracy.md - over 6 years ago

Allow for full and proper recall of MPs: any e-petition to recall their MP supported by 20% of all registered constituency electors should trigger a local referendum (yes/no majority vote required) as to whether to hold a fresh byelection.

Elected House of Lords

Lords Reform

Create an elected Upper House of Parliament for single 15 year terms, with the explicit purpose of revising and improving (not vetoing) legislation initiated by HM Government in the House of Commons.

Replace the House of Lords with a second chamber made up of randomly-selected citizens tasked with reviewing and amending legislation created by the House of Commons.

Abolish automatic appointment of bishops to the House of Lords.

Citizens are selected from the electoral roll and serve a single fixed-length term. A subset of the chamber is changed each year. Leave from work is legally protected, and help back to work included in the cost.

Party Funding

Floppy

@Floppy - over 6 years ago

I've removed the term length now.

Floppy

@Floppy - over 6 years ago

@PaulJRobinson http://www.democraticaudit.com/?p=5788 may be of interest to you on this. I'm trying to find a better reference to include along with the actual text as well.

PaulJRobinson

@PaulJRobinson - over 6 years ago

There are some interesting arguments put across here, but they still feel like a collective sigh at the failure of democracy in HoL, when it hasn't even been tried yet. We often talk about how hard fought democracy has been over the centuries, and how lucky we are compared to some developing countries, so why are we so keen to try something else when it isn't completely perfect? I maintain that democratic rule is one of the greatest concepts created by humankind, and I think it is absolutely fundamental to a properly functioning civil society.

But let me take each of the 4 arguments detailed above: 1) Yes elected representatives require advisors, as would random selectees. That doesn't mean random selectees are any better. They still haven't been selected for any positive reason. They still cannot be held to account at a subsequent election. Accountability remains a key component of a democratic system (and is one reason why limited terms for elected politicians are flawed). 2) Same as above. If a random group can deliberate on ideas which leads to rational decisions, how is that better than a selected group getting together which leads to equally rational decisions? 3) This is good. But I maintain there are other ways of preventing a political elite from taking hold: open primaries; making legislators voluntary/part-time so they have to maintain a primary income as a doctor/shopkeeper/teacher etc and don't work their way up the political career ladder as SPADS; alternatively paying legislators an incredibly good salary so it isn't just the wealthy who can afford a career in politics. 4) Again as with 1) and 2) an elected HoL would also 'just' be deliberating and reviewing legislation. I don't see how random groups are better than accountable and meritoriously chosen legislators at doing this.

In sum, I can see how a random group can be equally good at making sound and rational decisions. But "equally good" isn't "better". Especially when you can't hold them to account every 4 years. Let's hold onto democracy for a little while longer before we throw it out with the bathwater.

I'm afraid this is a strong πŸ‘Ž from me.

ps: Practical Issues 1) Can you say "I don't want to spend next 5 years in HoL thanks" and opt-out? Or is it like Jury Service and you have to do it? Which would be rather illiberal to force a 5 year sentence on someone taking them away from a job and a family (eg in Scotland) that they love. 2) If you can opt-out then you're left with a group of people who are 'keen' to do it and it is slightly less random mix (because of the argument that anyone who wants power should never be in a position to get any - which is partly how this idea was initially proposed I think).

On 17 June 2014 07:16, James Smith [email protected] wrote:

@PaulJRobinson https://github.com/PaulJRobinson http://www.democraticaudit.com/?p=5788 may be of interest to you on this. I'm trying to find a better reference to include along with the actual text as well.

β€” Reply to this email directly or view it on GitHub https://github.com/openpolitics/manifesto/pull/188#issuecomment-46271022 .

tmtmtmtm

@tmtmtmtm - over 6 years ago

My suggestion: replace (or augment) the HoL with a 'jury' system on a per-Bill basis. This would be selected randomly (like criminal juries) β€”Β with the benefits as per above β€”Β but without asking them to give a major chunk of their life for an extended term (beyond that which happens with court trials). The vast majority would be disposed of in a day or two. The mechanisms here already exist, and are well known, and could largely be reused.

Other parts of it need fleshed out a little more (e.g. how to best prevent a government bringing back the same law again and again until it gets a sympathetic jury), but what do people think of the idea in the large?

Floppy

@Floppy - over 6 years ago

The jury-per-bill system does seem interesting. Do you think you'd need a permanent second house if you did this, or would it be replaced by these bill-specific citizen panels? Do you know of anywhere that's doing this on a regular basis?

philipjohn

@philipjohn - over 6 years ago

@Floppy Trying to remember some of the examples in Rebooting Democracy. They were based on referendums I think, so transferring that principle to bills might be new. That'd require us to commit to trials rather than a full implementation.

Floppy

@Floppy - over 6 years ago

Yeah, I don't remember examples of it being used during creation of legislation. Perhaps, yes, we should propose some options in this PR. I'll have a think.

PaulJRobinson

@PaulJRobinson - over 6 years ago

I've come around to this one having now read Reboot Democracy. πŸ‘

Floppy

@Floppy - over 6 years ago

@philipjohn I assume you're still a πŸ‘ on this one? If so, we should be able to merge it.

frabcus

@frabcus - over 6 years ago

"I've come around to this one having now read Reboot Democracy. πŸ‘" -- ha, that's an example of deliberation changing people's minds!

I'm not completely sure about implementing this one straight away, without first doing "Research deliberate democracy" https://github.com/openpolitics/manifesto/pull/216

How do "long game" future ideas like that fit in? i.e. things we think are good ideas, but there isn't enough evidence yet to risk implementing.

A similar example is Citizens Income in Green policy - they don't have a plan to implement it straight away, as you have to know quite a lot to make sure it balances financially. But they'd work towards it, research it more and so on. (I think, I'm paraphrasing here!)

Floppy

@Floppy - over 6 years ago

The whole thing is a long game really. We have plenty of stuff that's vision of where we want to get to - there are many steps along the way. We could add a note after merging both PRs to clarify if needed though.

philipjohn

@philipjohn - over 6 years ago

Yep, I'm still a πŸ‘ and on #216