Comments from other students

Demonstrating a firm grasp of the issues of Lords reform, the students kept the discussion topical by raising a matter close to their hearts: the vote on higher education tuition fees in the House of Commons on 9 December. The lively, insightful debate considered issues of accountability, democratic legitimacy and party-political independence in both Houses. Below is a selection of comments from the debate.

I support a fully appointed system. Surely the fact that we have such a centuries-old system in this country makes ours one of the most stable political systems in the whole world?
Joseph Harmer, Four Dwellings High School

This House of Lords is very efficient at making laws. [Members] have expertise because they come in after having served in industry. We have professional people who have worked in the education and defence sectors, the sorts of sectors that are not represented by career politicians across the hall. Those who do not have these experiences, like career politicians, cannot make laws because they do not understand these sectors to the extent that professionals do.
Shekhar Seebaluck, Robert Clack School

It is a fact that traditionally we are a Christian country. By removing all the Bishops from the fully appointed House of Lords, are you not removing a piece of British heritage and therefore a piece of British history?
Astra McKenzie, Four Dwellings High School

I want to speak in favour of a fully appointed House of Lords, basically, because of the reason of independence. Because of the system that we have in the House of Lords, Cross-Bench and Independent Peers make up 24.5 per cent of the membership—nearly a quarter. However, in the House of Commons, 0.18 per cent of MPs are Independents—in other words, just one MP.  I think that a fully elected system would make the House of Lords more partisan and would lose the independent aspect, which would be a shame.
Brynley Evans, Weston College

Currently, citizens in the UK are represented by thousands of pressure groups. I want to know how the deficit would be filled if we abolished the House of Lords. It serves as a vital access point for pressure groups and interest groups.
Sam French, Robert Clack School

If we abolished the House of Lords, further reform would be needed in the form of a codified constitution. There would be nobody else to control the powers of the Executive [,] that is the only safeguard we have.
Jazdeep Bassi, Valentines High School

Do we not agree that the House of Commons already has enough power? The only thing that stands above it is the House of Lords, which checks everything that it does.
Francesca Thomas, Boston High School

I remind the House of the People’s Budget in 1906 which created [...] the constitutional crisis that arose in 1910 and resulted in the Parliament Act 1911. If we were to have an elected body, the same constitutional crisis would happen in this postmodern consumer society.
Jesal Sheta, Gateway College  

The House of Commons is elected by us, therefore we trust them enough to elect them. Why do we need the House of Lords to check, monitor, adjust Bills and—I am going to use the word here—babysit them?  If this is the case, shouldn’t it be the House of Commons that needs rethinking?
Sabrina Tamedi, Westminster Academy 

Under the Parliament Act 1911, the House of Commons is allowed to push through a Bill if the House of Lords denied it three times. If the House of Commons is allowed to push through a Bill anyway, what is the point of the House of Lords?
Serena Gill, Shelfield Community Academy

My fellow students, I may remind you that we are already facing a crisis with the electorate. Fewer people are voting every year, so why give them another election? Why don’t we concentrate on increasing the number of people who vote in the elections that we have at the moment?
Matt Yardley, Weston Sixth Form College

While we accept that alongside elections comes legitimacy, a low turnout could be expected, as seen with the turnout for the House of Commons. Would that not affect legitimacy and therefore accountability?
Hannah Priestley, Boston High School

I am completely against a fully elected House. It offers no legitimacy because it would make it a complete clone of the House of Commons [...] In the current economic situation, there are not enough resources to support that. As for abolition of the House of Lords, that is something you do not consider because, without these checks and balances, we can see the House of Commons as a tyranny, such as with the [tuition] fees.
Kanyin Fagade, Roundwood Park School

I completely disagree with the abolition of the House of Lords. If you look at the example of the tuition fees, how do you know that the people you elect are going to keep your best interests at heart?  We need the House of Lords to check that the House of Commons is doing what it says it’s going to do.
Priya Ghatanrhae, Gateway College

Many people have said that there is not a safety net. Look around yourselves—all of us are a safety net. If we do not believe what the House of Commons have put in place is right, we would all speak up. 
Jane Twun, Four Dwellings High School

I have been listening to everyone talking about democracy. I want to ask you all—everyone sitting in this House of Lords, what is meant by democracy? Its meaning is “people in power”, but do we actually have power?  No, we don’t. If we had power, we would be able to change the tuition fees situation.
Deepi Sandhu, Gateway College

Diversity and representation have come up quite a lot. My fellow students in favour of a fully elected House seem to be labouring under a massive assumption that the electorate would make it more diverse and representative. As the House of Commons is not as diverse as the House of Lords, that assumption is quite ridiculous.
Hollie Gibson, Roundwood Park School

Do you not feel that the whole House should recognise that the House of Lords needs changing? It is not diverse. The devolved Assemblies do not have many representatives in this House; there are only three from Wales. I agree with the fully appointed argument that there must be much more independence, but the Government must not be able to appoint and the devolved Assemblies must be represented in the new House.
Oliver Davies, Holywell High School

The fully appointed House does not represent enough people. We’re in a place where there are hardly any disabled people—there are only a few.  How can we sit here and say that we are representing the whole of the UK, when there are hardly any disabled people here, and we are passing laws? We are not representing all the classes and all the ethnic groups. I think that we are being hypocrites by sitting here trying to pass laws about discrimination and disability when people like that are not here.
Esther Olunga, St Angela’s and St Bonaventure’s Sixth Form

One of the most important things that we are forgetting is the costs that we would save by abolishing the House of Lords.
Ibiba Lawson-Jack, St Saviour’s and St Olave’s School

I think that the House of Lords should be abolished because its powers are already quite limited. I think that it is quite ineffective in the sense that it has no power in finance and it can only delay legislation for one parliamentary Session. I recognise that its role in scrutinising government legislation and amending it is important. However, I think that it can be moved to a strengthened committee system.
Marjana Ali, Valentines High School

The appointment of three Welsh Peers, announced on 19 November, has given a welcome boost to Welsh representation in the House of Lords, which now has four current or former Assembly Members. Yet, despite the important recognition of the contribution of individuals from Wales, I would support the abolition of the House of Lords in favour of a reformed, democratic single Chamber with the Celtic nations fully represented.
Sandham Davies, Holywell High School

I agree with the hybrid team [...] I think we need the elected aspect because we [...] are a democracy and get a lot more involved. I think that we also need the appointed aspect because we need the specialist expertise on what is going on and we need the judgment on legislation. I therefore think that with a hybrid House of Lords we have the best of both worlds because then we are involved and are also in safe hands.
Rebekah Glover, Blackburn College

Further information

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