Debating the future of the House of Lords can be a bit of a minority interest, the former Lord Speaker Baroness Hayman said in her introduction to the fourth annual debate for young people in the Lords chamber
However, this did not turn out to be the case for the 200 students taking part in ‘Elect, Select or Reject: the Future of the House of Lords, which took place on Friday 10 December 2010. For the 15-18 year olds from state schools and colleges across England and Wales reform of the House of Lords proved a fascinating subject in a lively, insightful discussion.
Baroness Hayman chaired the debate. With the government’s proposals for reform of the Lords anticipated in early 2011, it was a timely moment for young people to join the conversation. The debate is relevant to all of them, she advised the students: ‘Their lives, their families’ lives and their communities’ lives are changed in Parliament.’ Baroness Hayman hoped the event would inform and deepen their thinking on the second chamber and on what they wanted their Parliament to be.
In the only occasion in 2010 that anyone other than Members of the House of Lords would speak from the red benches, the students had their say not only on reforming or abolishing the Lords - but also on tuition fees - in a debate that also considered issues of accountability, democratic legitimacy and party-political independence in both Houses.
Following the debate the students voted on the future they wanted for the second chamber of the UK Parliament. A majority voted for a fully appointed House of Lords.
Find out what the students had to say on the four options for reform:
Image: Parliamentary copyright